Honoring Our Legacy
June 26, 2009 Posted in Perspectives
Thursday night in Seattle, I had the honor to be a part of the Crimson Legacy of Leadership event, which celebrated the contributions of Washington State University’s last three presidents – Glenn Terrell, Samuel Smith and V. Lane Rawlins.
Talking with those three outstanding leaders, and seeing the continued affection they inspire from so many Cougar alumni and supporters, one cannot help but be filled with immeasurable respect for these men and for their contributions to our university.
Each led the institution through difficult times, and left it a better place. Each remained focused on the goal ahead while systematically surmounting any hurdles placed in the institution’s path.
Having come through some difficult times of our own, we can learn from their example. We have much to celebrate, much to anticipate and much more to do.
In about two months, fall semester will begin on our four campuses. It will be an exciting time, full of possibility for our students and for our university.
Last fall, we welcomed a record number of students to our campuses. All indications are that university-wide enrollment will be strong again this fall. A WSU education is in high demand.
Turning Freshmen into Graduates
June 5, 2009 Posted in Perspectives
When we admit freshmen at Washington State University, we make a commitment to give them access to the classes and the academic support they need to graduate in a timely fashion. I am pleased to report that WSU has made substantial, measureable progress in support of that commitment.
Students should be able to graduate in four years. Some students may take a bit longer and sometimes personal or economic issues force delays. But I have never believed that it is a good use of the students’ money, or the money allocated by taxpayers to support our institution, to stretch the pursuit of a bachelor’s degree into the indefinite future.
A national report about college graduation rates from the American Enterprise Institute, which received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has received quite a bit of media attention this week. The report found that only about 53 percent of students nationally who entered a college or university in 2001 graduated from that same institution in six years. That is, indeed, an unacceptably low rate.
Fortunately, the numbers are higher for Washington State University and the state of Washington in general. Washington now ranks ninth overall among states in six-year graduation rates. At WSU, the six-year graduation rate cited in the report is 63 percent. The most recent figure, which covers freshmen students who began their studies at the Pullman campus in 2002, is better -- 66.8 percent.
Preliminary Budget Plan
April 30, 2009 Posted in Perspectives
Friday we will release specific details of our preliminary budget plan in response to a $54.2 million overall reduction in state funding for the 2009-2011 biennium. This is the largest reduction in the history of Washington State University. It is based, in part, on an anticipated tuition increase of 14 percent, which was used by the Legislature to build its budget for higher education in the state. The Board of Regents will consider this increase at its meeting next week.
Our single highest priority is to preserve the investment that every taxpayer of the state of Washington has already made in WSU. We must maintain the quality and excellence of our teaching and research programs. To do otherwise would diminish the value of the education our current students receive, the degrees our graduates have earned from this remarkable university, and the financial investments that you and so many others have made through your philanthropy.
Eroding quality is fundamentally unacceptable, and as a consequence, we have chosen to make vertical cuts in a very strategic way throughout the university rather than across-the-board horizontal reductions. Unfortunately, a number of programs, services, and personnel will be impacted by this budget reduction.