Financial planning in the wake of COVID-19

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

As we all continue to adjust to the new reality created by COVID‑19, we want you to know we deeply appreciate your patience and support as we address the complexities of the University’s current day‑to‑day operations and future plans. We are seeking solutions applicable system‑wide while acknowledging that the implementation of some decisions may vary across the system.

We know that you are dealing with unexpected and challenging issues. We know that many of you are hurting and worried. While we don’t have answers to all of your WSU‑related questions yet, please know that we are working on them. We cannot—and should not—make decisions lightly or hastily given the short‑term and long‑term impacts they likely will have on our community.

As the University moves forward with institutional-level decisions in the coming weeks, we are continuing to listen closely to our students, faculty, and staff to ensure our decisions are as compassionate, equitable, and practical as possible under the circumstances.

One of the areas that worries everyone is finances. National economies worldwide are struggling to determine the human and fiscal impacts of this constantly evolving situation. Governments, corporations, and businesses large and small are scaling back investments, frequently opting to reduce their operations and workforces.

As we consider the University’s finances over the next several months and beyond, we are striving to minimize the fiscal impact of COVID‑19 on our students, faculty, and staff. Nonetheless, we must begin to plan for a short‑term future in which the University’s revenues and state appropriations are reduced. The good news is that we are in a better position today to manage a temporary reduction because WSU’s finances are greatly improved due to the recent successful efforts to balance revenues and expenditures.

Although many decisions remain, we have made a number of financial decisions affecting our community.

For our students

  • Refunds for spring 2020 semester tuition and course fees will not be issued due to the change in delivery method from face‑to‑face to distance instruction. The vast majority of students will be able to complete their coursework for the semester. WSU’s existing petition process for late‑term withdrawal is available if extraordinary circumstances, such as a documented medical emergency, prevent completion of courses.
  • Prorated housing and dining refunds or credits will be issued to students who wish to terminate residential housing and dining contracts for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. There will be no termination fees. Students must elect a refund or credit by April 10, 2020. Students also may donate Residential Dining Account (RDA) balances to Cougs Feeding Cougs.
  • We will announce our plans regarding Service and Activity (S&A) and other mandatory fees by April 30. Several factors, including services being offered remotely, salaries of students and full‑time employees, and building debt service, will be considered when making the decision.

For our employees

  • Effective immediately, we are freezing the current salaries for all WSU executive leadership at the dean, chancellor, vice chancellor, vice president, provost, and president level at least through fiscal year 2021 (June 30, 2021).
  • Effective immediately, the hiring of new faculty and staff will be limited to mission-critical hires. Documented justification is required for exceptions. All faculty and academic area staff hiring must be approved by the interim provost and executive vice president and/or campus chancellor. All non‑academic area staff hiring must be approved by the appropriate vice president and/or chancellor.
  • All areas should immediately implement measures to reduce operating expenditures such as travel and supplies, with the exception of those needed to support remote instructional delivery and staff and faculty working at home. Expenditures needed to support distance delivery of instruction and to provide remote support for our students are the two highest priorities.
  • We are reviewing the financial impacts on all operations based on the significant reductions in on‑campus activities as COVID‑19 affects the WSU system. All auxiliary areas are estimating the impact of reduced revenues and expenditures on their operations.

Preserving the jobs of our faculty and staff is one of our top priorities. In fact, we currently are investing in staff development by encouraging everyone who can to complete the valuable online professional development courses offered through our online learning system SkillSoft while they work from home.

We know that you still have many questions. The University’s COVID‑19 website continues to be a great source of current information, and we plan to introduce a new monthly email to keep you up‑to‑date about the University’s financial picture. You may also send fiscal-related questions and concerns to COVID‑ We will also address them in future communications and through the COVID‑19 website’s FAQs webpage.

Our Cougar family is known for its resiliency, teamwork, and commitment to serving the greater good. This historic event may test our spirits, but we know that the resolve of Cougars is unbreakable.

Thanks for all that you do.

Kirk Schulz

Bryan Slinker
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

Stacy Pearson
Vice President for Finance and Administration

Mary Jo Gonzales
Vice President of Student Affairs