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WSU President Kirk Schulz takes voluntary 10% pay cut in new contract

UPDATED: Tue., June 30, 2020

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz and other university officials hosted a COVID-19 town hall Wednesday to discuss the university's plans to receive, store and help distribute doses of the coronavirus vaccine throughout parts of Eastern Washington.  (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Washington State University President Kirk Schulz and other university officials hosted a COVID-19 town hall Wednesday to discuss the university's plans to receive, store and help distribute doses of the coronavirus vaccine throughout parts of Eastern Washington. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz has taken a voluntary 10% pay cut for one year and turned down a $50,000 retention bonus as the university works to regain its financial footing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schulz took the helm of WSU in 2016 and the board of regents approved his five-year contract extension on Friday. His salary will remain set at $625,000, minus 10% for the year ending June 30, 2021.

“Everyone within the university will have to share in the pain of the difficult financial situation brought on by COVID-19, but President Schulz has led the way with his voluntary reduction in salary and other contractual benefits,” Brett Blankenship, who chairs the board of regents, said in a statement.

Schulz also gave up access to vehicles provided by WSU and a university-owned condominium in Seattle that was purchased under a previous administration for overnight business trips to Puget Sound. WSU plans to sell the condo and channel the money into its operating budget.

Former WSU President Elson Floyd, who died in 2015, took a $100,000 salary cut when the last recession hit in 2008. Afterward, his salary was $625,000, the same as Schulz’s is now.

The regents on Friday also approved a 2.5% tuition increase for undergraduate and graduate students in the 2020-21 academic year. For resident undergraduates, that will add about $249 to the annual cost of tuition, according to the university.

Some regents said the university should track the impact of tuition hikes on students’ ability to attend WSU.

“I’m really worried that we are going to see over time the reduction of students who do not speak English as a primary language, students of color, students with handicaps, students out of poorer neighborhoods,” Regent Ron Sims said. “I worry about the loss of that kind of opportunity for those populations.”

While they raised tuition, the regents decided against increasing mandatory services and activities fees for students.

WSU has implemented a hiring freeze in an effort to cut $37 million from its 2020-21 operating budget. All university departments have been asked to submit plans showing how they would reduce spending by 10%.

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