Washington State University will cut 359 jobs and eliminate three academic programs to deal with severe budget cuts imposed by the state, school President Elson Floyd said Wednesday.
The departments of Theater and Dance, and Community and Rural Sociology will be phased out, and the German major will be eliminated because of budget cuts of $54 million over the next two years that were imposed by the Legislature. But the sports management program, which had been slated for elimination, will be retained.
“There is no doubt this has been the most difficult year in the life of Washington State University,” Floyd said during a question-and-answer session from Pullman that was shown live at WSU’s three branch campuses. Some upset faculty members and students questioned why their programs were cut.
“Virtually every aspect of WSU has been touched by this fiscal crisis,” Floyd said.
Floyd, who has already cut his salary by $100,000, said WSU’s top administrators will contribute 5 percent of their base salaries back to the school. The $330,000 savings will save 10 positions, he said.
Floyd rejected the notion of across-the-board cuts, saying he wanted to preserve the strongest programs at the state’s land-grant university, which is based in Pullman. The new budget, which includes cuts of about 10 percent, takes effect July 1.
Among the actions:
• WSU will not fill 167 vacancies, and will cut an additional 192 faculty and staff positions.
• The sports management major that had been slated for elimination will continue.
• The Department of Theater and Dance will close in July 2011, allowing current students to complete their degrees.
• The Department of Community and Rural Sociology will close July 2010, as there are no students majoring in this program.
• The German major will be eliminated July 2011, after current students complete their study.
Many programs in Pullman and at branch campuses in Spokane, the Tri-Cities and Vancouver also will see reductions.
Cathryn Claussen of the sports management department said she appreciated the efforts made by administrators to save the program.
“I want to thank you for your leadership,” she told Floyd.
But Kris Nagle, a theater major, wondered if her degree would be useless as the program is phased out.
“What does ‘phase out’ mean?” she asked. “If you cut away our shows, we’ll have nothing to put on our resumes.”
Provost Warwick Bayly told her the department would continue to mount productions so that remaining majors can get proper experience.
Some speakers wondered if big cuts in agriculture and extension programs damaged WSU’s mission as a land grant institution. The College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences will consolidate some majors and eliminate the international marketing program for farm products. The Cooperative Extension program will close all nine of its learning centers across the state and will make other staff cuts.
“Our entire mission has just gotten more complicated,” Floyd said.
The university will also dramatically cut back on advertising and reduce its print publications.
Administrators held more than a dozen public meetings to gather comments after releasing their initial budget cut proposals in early May.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.