Board of Trustees Recap for June 11, 2020 

Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion.  

 

Trustees Approve Preliminary 2020-21 Operating Budget and Tuition Rates 

Western’s Board of Trustees approved a preliminary 2020-2021 continuation operating budget of more than $190 million for the University, preliminary to approving a final operating budget for the year at their regular meeting in October. The trustees also approved 2020-2021 tuition rates. 

Rich Van Den Hul, Western vice president for Business and Financial Affairs, said the continuation budget was needed due to the uncertain effects of the coronavirus pandemic on University fall enrollment and a likely decrease in state funding to the University in the midst of the severe economic situation in the state. “In many ways we are in uncharted waters,” Van Den Hul said. 

Western’s operating budget is primarily funded from two sources: state appropriations and tuition revenue, each providing close to 50 percent of the total. The coronavirus is expected to have impacts on both of these sources. Additionally, revenues from Western’s auxiliary and self-sustaining operations, such as the housing and dining system, are also facing major challenges as Western reduces on-campus occupancy to protect the health of the campus community. 

Becca Kenna-Schenk, executive director of Government Relations, said that a preliminary revenue forecast for the state identified a potential $7 billion loss through the 2021-23 biennium. She said that the Legislature is likely to hold a special session later this summer or in the fall to respond to the severe economic downturn in the state. 

Faye Gallant, WWU executive director of Budget and Financial planning, said the preliminary budget will allow operations to continue until there is more clarity regarding state appropriations and fall enrollment. After continued planning and further review, including by the University Planning and Resources Council (UPRC), the trustees will consider a final budget at their October meeting.  

 Due to these unique circumstances, the trustee voted to approve a preliminary 2021 annual state operating budget at the fiscal year 2019-2020 level of $190,289,000, consisting of both state appropriations and tuition revenue. That includes $886,000 in state appropriations directed to lowering tuition rates for Western on the Peninsulas programs.  
  In addition, the trustees approved 2021 tuition rates and mandatory fees. Those included:  

  • A 2.5 percent increase for the 2002-21 year for resident undergraduates, non-resident undergraduates, resident graduate, non-resident graduate, resident and non-resident MBA and resident and non-resident students in the Audiology and Speech Language Pathology programs. A total 84.4 percent of Western students are resident undergraduates. The 2.5 percent increase for this student group equates to an annual increase of $164. Even with the tuition increase Western resident undergraduate tuition rates are substantially below both the University of Washington and Washington State University. In addition, Western’s tuition rates for resident and non-resident undergraduate students are below all other public universities in the state with the exception of Central Washington University. For more information, see: https://trustees.wwu.edu/files/10d%20Approval%20of%202020-2021%20Academic%20Year%20Tuition%20Rates%20and%20Mandatory%20Fees.pdf 

In other business, the trustees: 

  • Approved a historic resolution affirming that Black lives matter, following an impassioned discussion in which board members, administrative and student leaders shared their own personal stories of frustration, sadness, anger and impatience with the nation’s and the university’s response to systemic anti-Black racism. 

  • Approved a four percent increase in 2020-2021 residence hall room and board rates and Birnam Wood apartment rental rates. That rate was previously discussed with residential student advisory groups. Also, University Residences is planning for fall student housing and dining following state health and other guidelines due to the coronavirus pandemic. For more information, see: https://trustees.wwu.edu/files/10f%20Approval%20of%20Housing%20and%20Dining%20Rates%20-%20Action%20Item.pdf 

  • Discussed 2021-23 decision packages. See: https://trustees.wwu.edu/files/10c%202021-23%20Decision%20Package%20Discussion.pdf 

  • Western President Sabah Randhawa said the University is preparing for the best possible in-person and remote learning hybrid learning mix for fall quarter. He thanked Faculty Senate President Jeff Young and all Western faculty members for their ability to adapt to the unique challenges posed by the pandemic. 

  • Recognized Western graduates and students who were chosen to receive a number of national awards this year, including five Fulbright Fellowship awards, 12 Gilman awards, one NOAA Hollings award, and one Goldwater award which is the second ever awarded to a Western student. For more information, see: https://trustees.wwu.edu/files/15%20Recognitions.pdf 

  • The trustees elected new board officers, effective after the meeting. They are: John Meyer, chair; Chase Franklin, vice chair, and Sue Sharpe, secretary. The trustees lauded outgoing Chair Earl Overstreet for his many and significant contributions to the board and to the University. 

  • Approved the 2021-2031 Capital Plan, which includes the 2021-2023 Capital Budget Request from state-appropriated funding sources of $97,289,000. For more information, see: https://trustees.wwu.edu/files/11%202021-2031%20Capital%20Plan%20and%202021-2023%20Capital%20Budget%20Request.pdf 

  • Noted that Student Trustee Hunter Stuehm had been reappointed by the governor to serve a second one-year term on the board. 

  • Expressed appreciation of the service provided to the University by outgoing Associated Students President Lani DeFiesta. 

  • Approved awarding contracts for several capital projects, including: $2,050,230 to BNBuilders of Seattle for roofing, lab casework and equipment for the Interdisciplinary Science Building project now under construction; and approved a change order and amendment with Lydig Construction of Spokane in the amount of $1,697,000 for the Ridgeway Commons ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) Accessibility component of the new residence hall project, also now under construction 

  • Approved spring quarter degrees. 

  The next regular meeting of the Board of trustees will be Aug. 20 and 21. Meeting documents are available at the Board of Trustees website at https://trustees.wwu.edu/meeting-materials 

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Wednesday, June 17, 2020 - 12:53pm

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