Facing millions of dollars in budget cuts, Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd said the school needs to make a stronger case about the importance of higher education.
“Everything must and should be on the table as we attempt to balance the budget,” Floyd told students in Pullman on Wednesday. But he rejected across-the-board cuts, saying they lead to mediocrity.
This month, the state informed WSU that it must cut an additional $11.2 million from its budget for the current fiscal year. That’s after a $13.5 million reduction already imposed by the state for 2010-11.
Floyd has asked administrators to submit budget plans by Oct. 15, and he will hold public hearings on those plans.
He said WSU needs to go on the offensive and make a stronger case to legislators about the importance of higher education. He noted that WSU has extension offices in all 39 counties in the state.
“It has been inspirational for me to hear from so many Washingtonians about how WSU helps them in their daily lives, through Extension, through 4-H, through agricultural research, through distance education, through nutrition counseling, through community building,” he said.
Floyd also told students that additional double-digit tuition increases are not sustainable. He said financial barriers to higher education were leading to lower college completion rates.
Washington has traditionally been a magnet for well-educated people from other states, but continuing to depend on other states to educate the state’s workforce is shortsighted, Floyd said.
“We need to make sure that Washington’s colleges and universities are funded to meet Washington’s needs,” he said.