Western's budget receives another blow

By Ryan Wynne

Western Washington University is facing yet another round of reductions in state funding as part of statewide, across-the-board budget cuts.

Olympia announced Sept. 16 that Western would have to shave another $3.05 million off its current budget, which comes on the heels of prior reductions in state support totaling more than $50 million, or 34 percent.

To meet the reduced budget, Western will eliminate 14 programs and reduce the award of new tuition waivers for spring and winter quarters that provide tuition assistance to students dealing with financial emergencies.

At this point, Western has managed to cut approximately 200 positions without laying off many employees. Paul Cocke, communications director for Western, said its unknown whether the $3.05 million cut will result in any more layoffs, but the elimination of positions is probable.

“There will likely be fewer positions, but we just don’t know how many at this point,” Cocke said.

The funding reduction didn’t come as much of a shock to the university, which had been directed by Gov. Chris Gregiore to prepare for the cuts by finding new ways to do business while protecting critical functions.

“We were and will be guided by this straightforward priority: serve students who have every right to expect that they will get the quality of education for which Western is now widely known,” Western President Bruce Shepard said in a news release.

The 14 programs that will be eliminated had already been suspended due to falling demand and include several masters of education programs, environmental science with an environmental chemistry focus and industrial chemistry with a general specialization focus.

The university won’t have an exact end date for the programs until it has determined a way for students to get their degrees, Cocke said.

“If there are students in there, they have to be served,” Cocke said.

Another 12 programs are also being considered for suspension or elimination, but Cocke couldn’t reveal which because the programs could be damaged by the fear that they were being eliminated.

Western will also further restrict admissions for winter and spring quarters, but they won’t know the magnitude of the restrictions until data from fall enrollment is analyzed, which Cocke said is usually finalized by the end of October.

The restrictions are happening as demand increases. Western received 10,000 applications for 2,700 openings, and the demand has been disproportionately in the areas of high-tech and science-based preparation.

To see Western’s full plan for dealing with the budget cuts, visit the university relations section of its website.

This story has been updated for accuracy.

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