Board of Trustees Recap for Aug. 23
Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion.
Trustees Approve 2020 Supplemental Operating Budget Request
Western’s Board of Trustees on Friday approved Western’s 2020 supplemental operating budget request to the state, which includes a $1,925,000 decision package to transition Western’s Peninsulas Programs to full state support.
Currently five Western colleges operate a total of eight programs on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas. Two of these programs - Cybersecurity and Early Childhood Education - have been funded by the state. The others are self-sustaining programs.
Provost Brent Carbajal told the trustees that tuition costs are substantially less for students in state-supported programs.
Also, state funding allows for hiring of permanent faculty and staff, bringing stability to the programs and making them more attractive to potential students.
In addition, the trustees also approved two other decision package requests to the state: a $347,000 maintenance-level decision package for an alignment of information technology (IT) salaries, and an $185,000 maintenance-level decision package for addressing impacts from proposed changes to the state’s overtime rules.
On July 1, 2019, Washington State Human Resources, with approval from the Legislature, implemented the IT professional structure, which reclassified 78 employees at Western. As a result of the reclassification, the university is now identifying equity and alignment issues among additional IT employees caused by the state’s reclassification. The request is for recurring funding, comprised of increases in salary and benefit costs.
And the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I) has filed a proposed rule that would update the state’s overtime regulations and render more employees eligible for overtime benefits. The request to the state seeks funding to ensure the rule can be implemented without significant fiscal impacts at Western.
The university’s supplement operating budget request goes to the state and to the Legislature, which may make adjustments to the 2019-21 state budget during their next legislative session starting in early 2020.
New Residence Hall funding
The trustees authorized the sale of Housing and Dining Revenue Bonds to pay or reimburse costs to demolish Highland Hall; build and equip a new residence hall on the Ridge; as well as additional housing system renovations and to pay costs of issuance of the bonds. The total project cost for the new residence hall is expected to be funded with bond proceeds.
The trustees also approved a resolution to increase the total project budget for the new residence hall by $1.8 million to make Ridgeway Commons ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) accessible. The additional funding will renovate the Ridgeway Commons dining facility to include ADA ramps, restrooms and elevator service.
The new residence hall will have approximately 400 beds in a mix of room types, a net gain of 264 beds after accounting for the loss of beds at Highland Hall.
Rick Benner, director of WWU Facilities Development/Capital Budget, described the new residence hall to trustees, as well as its design intended to overcome the steep grade up from main campus at College Hall to provide ADA access – through use of ramps, landings and an elevator – to and through the new residence hall. He said this pathway through the new residence hall, which he termed a “shared journey” for the community, also will offer convenient access to dining, meeting and other building amenities.
In other business, the trustees:
Heard an update from President Sabah Randhawa that the university had hired 46 new faculty members, including a number of female faculty and faculty from underrepresented groups, nearly all from some of the best higher education institutions in the nation. Randhawa praised the good work of the Provost’s Office and Western faculty for the successful faculty hires.
Welcomed 2019-20 Student Trustee Hunter Stuehm.
Welcomed several new campus leaders: Robert Squires, vice provost for Outreach and Continuing Education; Shelli Soto, associate vice president for Enrollment Management, and Sislena Ledbetter, executive director for Counseling, Health, and Wellness. Squires succeeds Earl Gibbons, who is retiring; his last day at Western was Friday. Carbajal praised Gibbons’ many contributions to Western.
Heard a presentation on Western’s waterfront planning by Donna Gibbs, vice president of University Relations and Marketing. Gibbs said Western has established a small working group of Port and University officials who have been meeting every other week since mid-April to define a public-private partnership model that proposes a mix of private sector industries and developers, public agencies and a multi-institutional higher education presence which could include the six-acre Western Crossing parcel. The working group plans to present the final vision to the trustees and Port Commission in October.
Heard a presentation on enrollment management and planning at Western by Soto, and Melynda Huskey, vice president for Enrollment and Student Services.
Approved awarding a contract to Diverse Contractors & Associates of Shelton in the amount of $964,150 (base bid) to construct classrooms and lab upgrades in the Environmental Sciences building.
Heard a report by Trustee John Meyer on the board’s Finance, Audit and Risk Management Committee.
Heard a report by Trustee Mo West on the board’s Student Success Committee.
The next regular meeting of the Board of trustees will be Oct. 10 and 11.
Meeting documents are available at the Board of Trustees website at https://trustees.wwu.edu/meeting-materials