February 5, 2010
Dear President Floyd and Provost Bayly:
With another budget cut facing higher education in Washington, we urge you to support teaching and research as the university’s primary work. You have asked the Faculty Senate to seek faculty input on whether they would prefer “vertical cuts” or furloughs. The notion that there are only two options is a false choice, and both options do serious harm to offerings and shrink educational opportunities at WSU. Vertical cuts would mean cutting programs and departments, largely according to administrative choices, and thus shrinking academic offerings for students and firing faculty and staff, while furloughs would require faculty and probably staff to take unpaid time off, which
could amount to approximately a 5% salary reduction in salaries that have not seen increases since 2007.
WSU-AAUP would like to point you and the faculty to the American Association of University Professors’ national policy that budget cuts which do not result from an officially declared financial exigency are not by themselves sufficient or appropriate justification for discontinuing academic units, especially when faculty input on the long term interests of the university are minimal, ad hoc procedures for decision making are instituted by the administration, and faculty are terminated rather than reassigned.
Rather than asking students, staff, and faculty to take further cuts, we propose other options to take priority. For instance, the administration, which has seen major increases in salary and growth since 2007, should include itself in the list of options for budget cuts. We should consider canceling current searches for new employees in administrative and academic units that became “priorities” in last year’s vertical cuts/restructuring, so we can instead keep the vital programs and experienced employees that make a healthy, comprehensive university. The university should ask the legislature to delay building projects or even amend the laws for capital budgets so that state monies can be used to support teaching and research rather than another new building which we actually cannot afford to fill with students, faculty, and staff.
WSU-AAUP is urging all faculty to become involved in this discussion, to contact their Faculty Senate representatives (http://facsen.wsu.edu/senate_roster/) to express their views, and to go to the next Faculty Senate meeting on February 11 to speak out on how any further cuts at WSU should be addressed. We urge you to heed the breadth of concerns and options that faculty raise.
Judy Meuth Charlotte Omoto