CWU News

CWU Budget Cuts Minimize Effects on Students, Employees

CWU is closing a $6.5-million budget gap primarily by reducing overhead and defunding 57 positions, 41 of which are now vacant. Since June, division leaders—vice presidents and deans—have been working to identify permanent strategies for addressing the deficit. The cuts affect divisions as follows: 12 percent in the Division of Business & Financial Affairs; 6 percent in the President’s Division; 5 percent in the Operations Division; and 2.3 percent in the Division of Academic and Student Life.

CWU President James L. Gaudino thanked university leadership for the care and creativity they used to close the shortfall.

"Our new management system provides two important options for meeting our budget challenges: an incentive for academic units to generate new revenue rather than simply making cuts, and a system for transparently evaluating the effects of administrative cuts on the core academic mission," said Gaudino, noting that old approaches to budget woes has generally meant across-the-board cuts. "The provost and deans used the new management approach to minimize cuts to people and programs; the overhead reductions in administrative divisions reduced cuts in the academic units."

The Division of Academic and Student Life proposes to generate about $2.2 million in new revenue, an increase of 3.2 percent. The infusion of new money reduces the division's overall cuts to just $2 million, or 2.3 percent. The majority of spending reductions will occur by defunding vacant positions and not replacing individuals who retire, for a total of 21 full-time employee equivalents (FTE). The division will reduce some spending on goods and services and will either not renew contracts or shift fund sources for 12 other FTE, none of which are tenured or tenure-track positions.

Provost Marilyn A. Levine said a multi-year, program-by-program review of academic offerings informed the budget reduction process; a primary goal of the review was to avoid negative budget impacts to degree programs.

"Student success has been a core value throughout this process; we didn't want to cause any student to drop a program," said Levine, acknowledging that reducing the faculty workforce would reduce course offerings and could lengthen the time it takes some students to earn a degree. “Our student retention goals and course optimization efforts will help mitigate current budget reductions and prepare us for a financially sustainable future that ensures a rich learning environment for our students.”

The Division of Business & Financial Affairs will achieve a 12-percent reduction in spending by shifting some costs to non-state funds and defunding four vacant positions. The President’s Division will reduce spending by 6 percent by cutting goods and services and defunding five positions. The Operations Division will reduce its budget by 5 percent, primarily by defunding 15.5 positions, 12.5 of which are vacant. Many administrative reductions took effect as early as July 1 of this year. All will be completed by June 30, 2015.

Gaudino said preventing layoffs was a high priority in order to preserve critical services, but also because changes in CWU employment have a significant impact on the local economy, where CWU is the largest employer. One in nine jobs in Kittitas County is provided by CWU; in Ellensburg, CWU provides about one out of seven jobs. 

The $6.5-million shortfall for the current fiscal year was generated when the legislature suspended the law on which the university based its business plan. The six-year budget plan, adopted in 2011, assumed modest tuition increases. In April, however, the state suspended the law authorizing the increases and failed to provide funding in place of tuition revenue.

Gaudino said CWU began addressing the budget gap last spring by establishing a soft hiring freeze. Over the summer, division leaders outlined in open meetings reductions that both could eliminate the budget gap through June 30, and that could prepare for deeper cuts next year, resulting from possible legislative actions in 2015.

“The vice presidents and deans have been both very thorough and very practical in their review of our budget situation," said Gaudino. He went on to note, however, that this is the second time in six years that the university has had to make dramatic cuts to its staffing. “We are definitely lean,” said Gaudino, “and in many places we are cutting beyond what is prudent.” He noted that a recent study by an independent consulting firm reported that CWU is below national average in its staffing in a number of critical administrative functions.

Gaudino said CWU is asking the legislature to repair the damage created by suspending state tuition-setting law—either by allowing tuition increases to go forward or providing funding to make up the difference.

Media Contact: Linda Schactler, Chief of Staff, 509-963-1384,