OneWSU System Evolution: Conceptual Charts

Dear Faculty and Staff Colleagues:

We hope this email finds you well and enjoying the longer spring days. As promised during the recent State of the University Address, we are committed to providing regular updates about the evolution of the OneWSU system. This communication brings you up-to-speed on recent developments.

In early March, our chancellors, deans, and vice presidents participated in an exercise to help guide the next phase of development of the OneWSU system. Using that feedback and the input from numerous other discussions and questions received to date, we have created conceptual charts detailing WSU system- and campus-level functions. These charts are intended to generate discussion and will be refined during the coming months as we further define our strategy for the system evolution.

As discussed in the first two OneWSU concept papers, the purpose of an interactive and deliberate approach to our system evolution is to better serve our students and communities by responding to local needs while focusing on quality, communication, and coordination at the system level.

The overarching intent is to continue to support and enhance things that are working well and fill in gaps and provide clarity about roles and responsibilities where needed. We seek to develop a stronger approach to self-governance and delegated authority for the WSU campuses while optimizing our shared services at the system level. This is in line with the 1989 state legislation that created our system, directing the new campuses of WSU to respond to placebound students and local community needs. More specifically, the intended outcomes of this initiative are to:

  • Position WSU more strategically for future growth in student enrollment across the system.
  • Provide enhanced opportunities for campuses to shape their academic and student programs to meet their student and community needs and expectations.
  • Provide clarity on authority and decision-making.
  • Implement an appropriately staffed administrative structure that provides system-level support while eliminating the need for a similar structure to be duplicated at the individual campus level. This structure will support functions at a system level but recognize that operations of those functions may need to be at a campus level.

As we continue to move forward, system-level roles and responsibilities must be distinct from those on the Pullman campus. Thus, as noted in the concept papers and the conceptual charts, we propose to:

1. Appoint an inaugural chancellor of the Pullman campus in August 2021.

This will require naming vice chancellors and making other organizational changes on the Pullman campus that reflect staff structures similar to those developed by our other campuses.

2. Establish a set of system functions that are distinct from the functions of the Pullman campus leadership.

In the conceptual charts, we have highlighted a set of functions that are clearly core system functions for a singularly accredited university. All system-level functions will require sensitivity to local needs and the development/maintenance of a shared services approach for administrative and support functions. Other campus operations will continue to be locally managed with system-level support and communication.

3. Maintain our single accreditation, one degree, and single point of tenure/promotion at the system level.

Deans, colleges, and departments/schools will continue to serve system roles. Deans will report (from a human resources and budgetary perspective) to the chancellor on the campus on which they reside, maintaining their system role and collaborative relationships with chancellors and vice chancellors for academic affairs. The three deans on the Health Sciences Spokane campus will continue to report to the vice president for health sciences and Spokane chancellor.

4. Support the system-level responsibilities of colleges and departments while at the same time allowing for more campus-level initiative in developing new programs and hiring/mentoring faculty.

To do this, we will examine all of our current policies and procedures to ensure they support the values of quality, coordination, communication, and equity and inclusion. For academic affairs, this will require careful attention to policies and procedures for faculty and staff hiring, tenure and promotion, the establishment of new degrees, extension of existing degrees to other campuses, and support of equity, diversity, and inclusion throughout the system.

5. Maintain staffing levels.

Inevitably, there will be some shifting of roles and responsibilities as staff across the system are asked to take on a more campus- or system-oriented role. These changes will happen gradually, as we continue to turn the dial on our evolution. We do not anticipate any reduction of staff nor any significant new staffing needs as we continue this refinement process.

In sharing these conceptual charts, our goal is to continue the discussion and evolution of the OneWSU system. Your continued engagement and input on the many details, processes, and functions will be critical in the coming months and years. We are enormously thankful for the feedback and input we have received thus far. Please keep it coming.

As a final thought, we are committed to a deliberative and phased approach to the OneWSU system evolution. An expanded and more comprehensive timeline for the evolution and implementation will be released soon. In the meantime, our new website provides a tool to submit feedback, and responses are being added to the FAQ section frequently. You are also welcome to contact us directly.


Kirk Schulz

Elizabeth Chilton
Provost and Executive Vice President