How does WSU spend ‘Grant Lands’ revenue?

During the December 9, 2021 Faculty Senate meeting with Provost Chilton and VP Pearson regarding the WSU budget plan, I asked for information regarding the annual revenue produced by tribal lands granted to WSU in 1890. Provost Chilton helpfully suggested that I provide my questions in writing so that they could be addressed more fully. I did so later that evening in an email that simply restated the information I provided during the Faculty Senate meeting:

In 1890, our institution was granted 90,000 beneficial acres of tribal land that was appropriated as part of the Morrill Act of 1862. According to data that accompanied the April 2020 High Country News article by Robert Lee and Tristan Ahtone, called “Land-Grab Universities,” the Washington Department of Natural Resources continues to manage 71,147 acres of that land in what is called the Agricultural School trust. I visited the DNR webpage to learn more about the revenue generated by the “Agricultural School Grant (WSU) Lands”. The DNR website provides pdfs of annual reports going back to 2003. Over the last 18 years, WSU has enjoyed approximately 84.5 million dollars of revenue from those lands, most of it coming from selling timber. According to the DNR annual reports: “All revenue from these lands is income for the trust and is divided between the Agricultural College Permanent Account and the WSU Bond Retirement Account.”

In light of that information, I’m trying to get a better understanding of how WSU spends the funds in the Agricultural College Permanent Account and the WSU Bond Retirement Account. I have two questions:
1. Are there certain expenses that, by law, can or cannot be covered with these two accounts, or does the administration have full discretion over how the land grant revenue is spent?
2. What percentage of this multi-million dollars annual revenue stream goes to directly support Native American students, staff, and faculty each year?

As of noon today, I have not received answers to these questions. Note that I’m submitting this comment here not because I expect a response from Faculty Senate leadership, but mainly with hope that Provost Chilton and VP Pearson can simply post the answers directly to this public forum. Many faculty are interested in the answers. Thank you.

Luke Premo (CAS)