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Central Washington University

CWU State Budget Priorities: Keep Tuition Low, Expand Enrollment, Renovate Chimpanzee Facility

Central Washington University is requesting state legislative support to prevent a tuition increase next year and to expand services to students. CWU also will request funds from the state construction budget to upgrade a state facility left vacant by the departure of the chimpanzees from the Chimpanzee and Human Communication Institute (CHCI).

In 2014, the legislature will fine tune the two-year budget approved last spring. CWU's supplemental operating budget request includes $5.2 million to negate the need for a 7-percent increase in undergraduate tuition next year.

"We have crafted our supplemental budget request to focus on increasing student success: affordable tuition and modern, safe academic facilities," said CWU President James L. Gaudino.  "These priorities also support the state's goal to graduate more students earning bachelor's degrees."

Last year, the legislature provided $3.8 million to offset the need for a tuition increase during this academic year only.  Since 2009, the state has reduced funding for CWU by nearly 50 percent while assuming tuition increases in state budgets.

"Faculty and staff have taken on more responsibilities in order to make up for the funding cuts over the past several years, but we've still a long way to go," said Gaudino, noting the total fund loss from the state was about $60 million over three years. "We can't stand still. We have to grow and adapt to new student needs and new technologies in order to be effective and relevant."

Gaudino said CWU and other public universities were pleased to receive a request from Governor Jay Inslee for proposals to increase degree production in computer science and engineering.  CWU responded with a budget proposal of $3.6 million for additional enrollments in undergraduate programs in Computer Science, Information Technology and Administrative Management (ITAM); Mechanical Engineering Technology; a dual degree program in physics and engineering; and an ITAM master's degree, including a specialization in cybersecurity.

The university's request from the construction budget is for $9.9 million to renovate the CHCI facility so that it can provide appropriate and safe academic space for CWU’s nationally recognized Reserve Officer Training Corps  (R)OTC)program. The CHCI facility was constructed in 1993 specifically for the care of and research involving chimpanzees. As it stands now, the presence of hazardous materials, poor energy efficiency, and inappropriate construction and design make the facility unusable. CWU proposes to renovate and re-purpose the facility to accommodate the Aerospace Studies and Military Science programs. Those programs are now housed in Peterson Hall, a dilapidated, 1950s-era motel, which CWU will demolish if funds are provided for CHCI renovation.

The ROTC program has been nationally recognized several times in recent years, including being named the "Most Outstanding" ROTC program out of 273 in the nation by the US Army Cadet Command, and receiving the coveted Founder's and Patriot's Award. In addition, they placed first among all ROTC programs, and 12th overall, at the 46th annual International Sandhurst Competition at West Point, in which top military teams and professional soldiers from around the world competed in military strategy and tactics exercises.

"This is truly a world-class program and it deserves a world-class facility," said Gaudino, adding that cadets also maintain consistently high grade points and graduation rates. "These cadets will be leaders on the field of battle and in their professional fields. We owe it to them to give them the very best preparation possible."

Supplemental budget requests will be reviewed by the Office of Financial Management in October and November. Governor Inslee will present the first supplemental budget proposal in mid-December. The legislature will convene on January 13. Legislators will review supplemental proposals and issue their own budget plans later in the legislative session.

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