The Western Washington University Board of Trustees on Thursday approved Western’s 2016-17 state-funded operating budget, which includes a 15 percent tuition reduction for resident undergraduate students during the upcoming academic year.
“This tuition reduction will greatly enhance affordability and accessibility for resident undergraduate students. Western is a great university and our resident undergraduate students now will benefit from a lower cost to attend,” said Karen Lee, chair of the WWU Board of Trustees.
The state Legislature, as part of its 2015-2017 two-year biennial operating budget, mandated tuition reductions for state-funded resident undergraduates at public universities, which at Western are being phased in with the 5 percent tuition reduction for the 2015-2016 academic year followed by the additional 15 percent reduction.
Resident undergraduate students represent about 87 percent of all students at Western. The 5 percent tuition reduction last fall amounted to about a $360 reduction in annual tuition for each full-time state-funded resident WWU undergraduate student. The 15 percent tuition reduction this fall will save a resident undergraduate student $1,027 annually while the savings from the combined 5- and 15-percent tuition reductions will be $1,387 annually.
Western’s 2016-17 state operating budget totals $160.272 million. Some highlights include:
- Funding to assist in providing competitive compensation for university employees, a top priority to maintain Western’s excellence. Compensation for faculty and classified employees are determined via union contracts with the university.
- Tuition for non-resident undergraduate, resident graduate, non-resident graduate and MBA students will increase 2.9 percent for 2016-17. Even with the increase those tuition rates still remain lower than most other public universities in the state.
“Our operating budget reflects Western’s foremost commitments to providing affordable access to high quality education. Reducing tuition for in-state undergraduates while also increasing compensation for our outstanding employees is an example of striking that balance. It ensures that more students will be able to access the smaller classes, opportunities to work with top notch faculty, and innovative learning experiences that Western is known for,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.
On Friday, the trustees also will consider Western’s 2017-2019 Capital Budget Request to the Governor and legislature, which totals $127,216,000, and Western’s 2017-2027 Capital Plan. The 2017-2019 capital budget request includes $56,241,000 to begin the design and construction for Western’s Sciences Building Addition and Renovation. The expansion and renovation of the current 42-year-old Environmental Studies building will help address the increasing need for instructional space for Western’s soaring numbers of students majoring in the sciences.
In other action on Thursday, the trustees passed a motion thanking Bruce Shepard for his many contributions to Western during his eight years as president and Cyndie Shepard for her contributions to the university as First Lady and leader of the highly successful Compass 2 Campus mentoring program. This was President Shepard’s last regularly scheduled trustees meeting as president of Western. Incoming Western President Sabah Randhawa will begin his duties at Western on Aug. 1. Trustees, administrators and staff thanked Bruce and Cyndie Shepard for their inspirational and transformative leadership at Western.
The trustees also heard a presentation by Rob Fix, executive director of the Port of Bellingham, and Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville on the current status of the Waterfront Development Project.