CHENEY, Wash. - Eastern Washington University President Rodolfo Arévalo has outlined a plan to respond to significant state budget reductions to higher education. EWU's operating funds will be reduced by $24.9 million for the 2011-13 budget cycle as a result of the compromise reached by the state Legislature. This represents a more than 45 percent reduction in state funding to Eastern over the last three-plus years. President Arévalo's initiative will result in significant reorganizations, reallocation of funds and cuts in degree programs.
"The changes in the budget initiative are necessary in order to maintain the university's ability to serve students seeking admission to our quality programs and to ensure our students succeed," said Arévalo.
Specifically, the cuts will include the elimination of 7 to10 degree programs, reorganization of the Division for International and Educational Outreach (DIEO), staff reductions and decreased operating funds. President Arévalo will also recommend to the Board of Trustees that Eastern only increase tuition by 11 percent for the 2011-12 academic year. This level of increase will be the lowest of any public university in the state, including the community colleges. The ability of EWU to maintain low tuition and preserve the quality of its programs is due in part to continued reductions in administrative overhead and advanced planning to ensure broad campus involvement in the budget process.
"Eastern will continue to offer the lowest tuition while providing a set of unique and high-quality undergraduate and graduate programs to the state of Washington, especially to the eastern and central regions of the state," added Arévalo.
While the university will be reducing operating budgets to existing programs, it will be investing in the consolidation of academic support programs, the launching of an Eastern virtual campus and the expansion of our community engagement efforts. According to Arévalo, all of these investments are focused on improving the academic climate and creating greater opportunities for EWU students to be successful.
Details of these initiatives are as follows:
Eastern will enhance academic support services to students by consolidating existing programs. This consolidation will provide a broad base of support services to all EWU students and will include improved access to our Writing Center, math tutoring services, supplemental academic instruction and basic skill development. Eastern will move to increase academic learning communities for incoming freshmen and summer skills academies for new students. It will also work to improve services to veterans and strengthen the student advising system.
Eastern will be launching an Institute for Community Engagement. The Institute's central focus will be outreach efforts in the greater Spokane region related to student volunteerism and development of a community learning project. This is being initiated to foster student skill development and the integration of academic learning with work experience.
The Institute will be based at EWU Spokane on the Riverpoint Campus, with a service learning office on the main campus in Cheney. The Institute will act as a clearinghouse for faculty, students, staff and community partners to facilitate and strengthen new and existing volunteer efforts with community partners. It will link Eastern to new opportunities, especially those which fit our diversity priorities and community needs.
The creation of an Eastern Virtual Campus will focus Eastern's resources on the development of a premier learning environment for place-bound students and professionals seeking to improve skills and promotional potential. We will work closely with the community colleges to develop degree completion programs, which build upon community college web-based associate degrees; Eastern will increase e-learning opportunities. This initiative allows place-bound students to complete their degrees and provides the university with more cost-effective ways to create greater access to higher education. While EWU's Virtual Campus will be initiated this fall, it will require a long-range building effort to provide significantly more of our courses and degrees online. The Virtual Campus will truly be a unique university effort to respond to the desire of the Governor and the Legislature to increase access to higher education and to provide greater levels of efficiency.
"Each of these initiatives has been identified to respond to the need to maximize efficiencies and improve student success," concluded President Arévalo. "At the same time, they will position Eastern Washington University to thrive in a competitive and transformative environment."
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