June 6, 1997 in Nation/World

Ewu May Not Fill Vacant Faculty Posts Budget Plans Call For Terminating 3 Teachers, 13 Other Staffers

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Faced with a $2 million budget shortfall due to low enrollments, Eastern Washington University is proposing not to fill 23 vacant faculty posts this fall.

The university also plans to terminate three teachers and 13 staff members to balance its $53 million budget for the 1997-98 academic year, which begins July 1.

At the same time it is making cuts, however, EWU is increasing spending for student services and activities.

“There is a real commitment to students in this budget,” said Michael Stewart, vice president for business and finance.

The university is adding $400,000 for student services and recruitment, the latter aimed at reversing the enrollment problems.

Student advising services will receive an additional $191,000, and $50,000 will be added for a lecture series and campus music groups. That money is in addition to the $400,000, Stewart said.

“We are trying to put dollars in areas to improve the quality of services to students and make Eastern Washington more competitive,” Stewart said.

And competitive is what the university needs to be, especially in attracting students from west of the Cascades, said EWU President Mark Drummond.

EWU found itself in trouble during the last academic year when 300 fewer full-time students enrolled than officials had anticipated. The Legislature had been even more optimistic, expecting 800 more full-time students than the 6,944 who showed up.

For the coming academic year, EWU is basing its budget on the expectation of 6,600 full-time students, Stewart said.

“We are hoping it will be above that,” he said. “We did a conservative estimate so we will have some flexibility” if more students enroll.

Changes in faculty and staff should save the university roughly $2.4 million. The reductions will be spread throughout the university.

The faculty vacancies exist because, “basically, we’ve known for a while we were looking at some reductions. So the president has been cautious in refilling positions,” said Stefanie Pettit, university spokeswoman.

Elimination of the $300,000 faculty incentive pool also is being considered. In the past, faculty members have received up to a $1,000 merit-based bonus from the pool.

Some administrators also may see a freeze in wages which would save roughly $50,000, Stewart said.

“I think it is a good-looking deal,” said Dana Elder, president of the Faculty Organization and an English professor.

Faculty members also may give up a salary increase, but, as with the rest of the plan, that has yet to be finalized, Elder said.

The loss of faculty positions will mean slightly larger classes for students, but Stewart downplayed the change.

“We are talking about adding a very small number of students to what are already the smallest class sizes in the state,” he said.

EWU’s student-to-faculty ratio is 17-to-1. The Legislature wants the school to have a ratio of at least 20-to-1, bringing it more in line with other state universities.

The state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board also is pressing EWU to drop some degree programs.

Work still is being done on those program changes. The university will make sure any student who has embarked on a particular course of study will be able to finish it, Stewart said.

The EWU board of trustees will decide whether to approval the budget proposals on June 24.

Those parts of the plan that include salary reductions also must be approved by members of the United Faculty of Eastern and Local 931 of the Washington Association of State Employees, which represents staff.

, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: THE CUTS Cuts proposed to save Eastern Washington University more than $2 million in the coming year include: Leaving 23 faculty positions vacant. Laying off three teachers and 13 staff members.

This sidebar appeared with the story: THE CUTS Cuts proposed to save Eastern Washington University more than $2 million in the coming year include: Leaving 23 faculty positions vacant. Laying off three teachers and 13 staff members.


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