The spring semester is now well underway — and along with it, the lingering aspects of what always seems like a lengthy Washington winter season.
As we continue through the semester, I wanted to thank you and recognize the work that you do on and off campus to provide an outstanding educational experience for all students across the WSU system.
Recently, we announced another budget reduction. I want to acknowledge that the latest round of budget reductions has been particularly difficult as we continue to emerge from the lasting effects of COVID‑19 on WSU. Additionally, while I do not put much weight in U.S. News & World Report rankings — we dropped significantly this past year — which has many members of the WSU community feeling that we are losing national prestige. Finally, the decrease in enrollment while the University of Idaho and University of Washington report record incoming classes does not inspire confidence in our future. None of these things help build morale and a sense of optimism about WSU moving forward.
We are working collaboratively to address these issues — and quickly.
Over the next several months, I will provide detailed updates to the WSU system community around some of these key topics. We will discuss our positive upward enrollment trends and what we are doing to ensure a robust entering class for fall 2023 on all our campuses. I will provide a couple of updates around our fiscal health as an institution including our reserve fund balance, comparisons with other public research universities, and details about our current debt load. We will also highlight ways we are trimming administrative costs at the system and campus levels. Additionally, we will take a deep dive into our national rankings and discuss some of the things we are doing to be sure that we are telling our story more frequently and effectively. Finally, I will provide an update on Cougar Athletics discussing the impacts of name, image, and likeness (NIL), the current state of our athletics budget, and the long-term impacts of the departure of UCLA and USC on the Pac‑12 conference.
I will ensure that we provide concrete data and information in a concise format and that our communications are limited to two pages or less. We will also provide avenues to ask questions and address any concerns you may have.
We have many positive things happening at WSU, including an increase in new first-year and transfer students for the spring 2023 semester; continued success with philanthropy and giving to support our educational, research, and outreach missions; legislative success at the state and federal level providing support for growing research, new facilities, and launching new degree programs; and continued increases in external research support.
I do not want our successes to be overshadowed by the challenges ahead; however, I want to be sure that we are communicating what steps we are taking as a leadership team to address our immediate concerns.
I am a perpetually optimistic person and believe that better times are ahead. Once again, thank you for all you do for Washington State University.
KIRK H. SCHULZ
President, WSU System