The Eastern Washington University board of trustees was presented with two budget scenarios Friday.
The first, prepared by President Rodolfo Arévalo in consultation with faculty and staff, will likely be approved when the board next convenes June 25. It cuts next year’s budget by about $13.3 million. The president also called for raising tuition the maximum 14 percent in each of the next two academic years.
The second scenario came during the audience comment portion of the board meeting when EWU geology professor John P. Buchanan called for reducing state support of the university’s athletics program by more than half and reassigning those dollars to academic affairs.
Arévalo has previously dismissed cutting sports and discounted support on campus for that option. EWU athletics has an overall budget of $7.5 million, about 3 percent of the annual operating budget, but just $2.9 million of that is state money.
But when Buchanan presented his scenario Friday, he received the only applause of the day from a crowd of about 100 persons attending the meeting.
“With all due respect, the budget reduction proposal being advanced by Dr. Arévalo does little to protect instructional programs despite all the rhetoric expressing otherwise,” said Buchanan, who is director of the environmental science program.
Arévalo’s budget eliminates about 110 positions, nearly half of which are currently unfilled.
Buchanan said some of the positions should not be allowed to go dark.
“For example, we have a biology department that presently lacks a geneticist,” Buchanan said.
“How is it possible to offer a credible degree in the field of biology without this critical component?”
Western Washington University is eliminating its football program, and the University of Washington cut $1.6 million from its athletics budget, the professor said. “EWU should follow suit, without reservation.”