I want to thank those of you who were able to attend President Schulz and Provost Bernardo’s recent Voiland College Town Hall. I hope you found their candid assessment of WSU’s budget situation as illuminating as I did.
In that spirit, I want to share with you some information on Voiland College’s own budget. During this past fiscal year, when considering our state budget only, VCEA’s expenditures were $3.7M more than its $35M in allocations/revenues. In other words, we overspent our state budget by more than 10 percent.
President Schulz, Provost Bernardo and I agree that our budget shortfall is a short-term situation, primarily due to investments we are making and the outstanding entrepreneurial efforts by our staff and faculty. For VCEA, many of our recent expenditures are one-time start up investments to support the research efforts of our faculty. We will continue to make these investments over the course of the next several years and expect great things to come from them.
However, those and our other investments create a short-term budget outlook that has financial constraints. I appreciate your efforts to help make Voiland College a growing, thriving, supportive community despite the limitations imposed by the current budget situation.
For the next few years, as we work through these short-term budgetary constraints, you may see:
- hiring in only very special cases;
- reduced college and school level support for travel, new initiatives, and research;
- ensuring that Schools are not exceeding their allocated TA budgets;
- an increase in average class sizes;
- shifting resources to create programs to support student success;
- careful rebalancing of the number of Clinical Faculty to Tenured/Tenure-Track;
- other efforts focused on both increasing revenue and reducing expenditures.
I understand that working with limited resources is no easy task, and I appreciate each of you for taking responsibility and being good financial stewards.
I see three main elements that are driving our success that will minimize these potential constraints:
Our Successful Graduates. Our efforts to recruit, develop, and retain successful undergraduates is a cornerstone to Voiland College’s success. I am also encouraged by the support that engineering receives statewide, from employers, the legislature and the federal delegation. WSU’s enrollment based budget model means that the more students we have, the more revenue we receive. I look forward to working with you to grow our academic programs to ensure continued opportunity and success for our students.
Our Groundbreaking Research. Our growing research portfolio helps support WSU’s building infrastructure, graduate programs, and is a key element in enhancing our national reputation. Simply put, more research funding equals better facilities, more graduate students, and an enhanced impact on society. As we expand our research portfolio, I will continue to work with university leadership to advocate for more investment in our research facilities. I am also committed to ensuring that VCEA provides personnel and structures that effectively support research success.
Cougs Give. Our alums serve as our ambassadors, and their success and philanthropy are the best forms of advertising we could ever ask for. I want to say ‘thank you” to all of you who have given your time to welcome visiting alums, donors, and corporations and allowed them to peek into your classrooms and labs. Their enthusiasm and support are a testament to the caring each of you have provided during their time as students here and the kindness and generosity you continue to provide as they support us.
Looking forward, I will continue to explore how we can better support Voiland College’s land grant mission and will work with VCEA and WSU leadership to identify new sources of revenue that can support groundbreaking research and our student’s success.
I encourage each of you to reflect and evaluate how we can be more effective, grow efficiencies and be more financially responsible. I’ll be speaking about the future of VCEA at our Town Hall Meeting, October 5, 3:30 – 5, in ETRL 101. There will be an opportunity for discussion then, or feel free to contact me anytime with your thoughts and ideas, or visit me during my Dean’s Office Hours.
Mary Rezac, Dean
Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture