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Faculty Senate Resolved Concerns

Responsible Spending by Athletics

Athletics has not met their budget, and again overspent. How are they being held accountable to responsible budgeting? The men’s basketball coaches contract was bought out at $4.2 million dollars and additional funding was approved to acquire a new coach. It seems that fiscal responsibility for athletics at WSU is held at a different level than the rest of the institution.

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Constituent concern regarding baseball clubhouse loan

I have a constituent concern regarding the Regent’s decision to provide a “very small loan” of $3.5 million to Athletics to build the baseball clubhouse. The quote of this being a “very small loan” is from Regents Chair Ron Sims and was published in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News in an article written by Scott Jackson on January 29th, 2019. This quote demonstrates that Ron Sims is out of touch with the realities we are facing at the departmental levels where we are facing additional cuts and a permanent tax on salaries to pay for the new Enterprise System. In addition, we have existing building projects, such as REC 5, which cannot currently be completed due to lack of state funding (the top one or two floors of REC 5 currently will just be empty shells). The President has stated, in the past, that only fully funded projects will be taken on at WSU, yet this baseball clubhouse is not fully funded. In addition, this “very small loan” of $3.5 million is being given to the Athletics Program which has failed to pay back the deficit it has created in the university reserves. If this loan to Athletics (and other deficits created by Athletics) is not paid back, academics will have to foot the bill which is an example of how the athletic budget and academic budget are not separate pools. The timing of this decision is not appropriate given our current budget condition as is the comment on the size of the loan from Regents Chair Ron Sims.

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CAHNRS grants staff is under supported and appears to not retain staff. Services of monitoring grants and contacting funders for billing being missed. Delays causing extra work for faculty.

Many faculty have shared concerns with issues around managing grants. There are issues of tasks being no longer covered by grants team. I personally had a grant that no follow up with funder occurred. I was notified that I might not get paid for work on grant if there are no bills. There wasn’t even a number set up for the grant. Another faculty had grant salaries not billed, as presented on the spreadsheets for salaries. Was told basically can’t change it, you figure it out and bill other faculty who were over paid. I request it be discussed on unit levels what services are being provided by CAHNRS grants. If services are permanently reduced we should be aware. If reduced the negative impact on our workload changing to more grant management should not penalize faculty on annual reviews.

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Contracts will not talk to venues we are contracting with. Expect staff to negotiate.

WSU contracts takes site contracts, does their edits, and sends back to WSU staff to explain the WSU edits (to the site) and expects staff to negotiate. Putting an untrained WSU staff member in between a contract negotiation is not working and takes a lot of extra back and forth communication. Staff have been told WSU contracts is not to talk directly with the site. Isn’t that the job of contracts to talk with sites and negotiate the contracts?

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The policy for managing summer grant money at WSUV discourages the pursuit of grants for salary supplementation and this is in contradiction of the university’s statement, when summer salaries were reduced, that we could make up the lost income by pursuing grants.

As was explained to me last summer when it was applied to my grant, the policy at WSUV is to reduce the amount of any grant paid out as summer income to the amount at which that faculty members’ salary for teaching a summer class would be capped. (E.G. if the cap is $8,000, and a faculty member receives a summer grant of $10,000, that faculty member will receive $8,000 minus deductions for taxes and benefits.) The additional grant money is taken by the university for other uses and not available to the grant recipient in any form (e.g. as travel reimbursement or goods and services). This policy applies to internal grants, grants from Pullman, and external grants. When summer salaries were first capped by WSU, which severely impacted professors already trying to deal with the salary compression WSU has no standard and consistent mechanisms for addressing, we were told to pursue grants in order to make up the loss of income. Under the new policy this is impossible since we cannot draw income from the grants in excess of what we would make by teaching summer classes. So the new policy is a strong disincentive to pursuing grants. as salary supplements. (We can still keep any grant money for travel or goods and services.)

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equity in provisions for graduate students

Our department’s graduate studies committee is discussing possibilities for graduate students who wish to study and teach on campuses other than Pullman–consistent with our vision of one university with multiple campuses. On other campuses, there is not the same availability of office space, the cost of living could be higher, and there is not the same graduate community. How does the university plan to address the unfunded mandate that all faculty members at all campuses be able to accommodate similar numbers of graduate students?

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Question WSU Bonds to Fund Baseball Facilities

WSU has recently announced a plan to construct new baseball facilities, with a budget of $10 million. According to an editorial in the Nov 14, 2018 Daily News, “The clubhouse would be funded using a mixture of donated cash on hand ($4 million), money pledged ($2.5 million) and money raised through the sale of bonds ($3.5 million)”. These bonds would be guaranteed through access to “general revenues of the university”, which also fund general WSU activities. The athletic department has recently pledged to reduce its considerable deficit and debt, largely through fund-raising. The proposed arrangement suggests that WSU is matching contributors’ funds at a time when there are no funds to match with, a move that will increase the athletics deficit. Why is the cash on hand not being used to decrease the current athletics deficit or debt? Why is WSU proposing to do this construction now rather than waiting until sufficient donated funds are in hand? Does the budget include an endowment for facilities maintenance, as has recently been specified for supplemental donations to facilities that will be used for academics or research? The editorial concludes “We don’t understand why right now is the time for Schulz and Athletic Director Pat Chun to stick their heads out on the line for a baseball clubhouse.” WSU faculty also have questions.

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Syllabi should not have too many “required” textbooks

In today’s meeting of the Graduate Studies Committee, we discussed the cost of required textbooks for a course.  The instructor and the department should be aware that textbook costs have skyrocketed in recent years and if too many textbooks are required, the cost of education can be impacted negatively.  For instance, we noted that some courses had four textbooks that were “Required and/ or Recommended” and other courses had multiple textbooks that were Required with additional readings.  Those who create a syllabus should check textbook prices and keep this in mind while assigning textbooks. Further, we suggest that Required textbooks should be clearly marked and separated from Recommended textbooks so that students can make the decision to buy only Required textbooks and possible use the library for Recommended textbooks.”

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Disproportional growth in administrative positions

One of my constituents (CAHNRS) has raised a concern that was discussed in last year’s faculty senate and does not seem to be adequately resolved. The issue regards the apparent disproportional growth in WSU (and WSUV) administrative positions in relation to the investment in educational (faculty) positions, especially in the current austerity phase. Perhaps the new administrative positions were to fill vacant positions. But the data are not readily available from the WSU website. The one graph easily findable in the WSU Budget Office and the President’s Office is from 8/31/2017, and it conflates the numbers of Classified, AP, and Faculty employees into one figure. In the spirit of fiscal health and transparency the President and the Provost publicly embrace, it would be important for our WSU community to know the growth of each of these positions, separately, over these past several years. We grew from 4,537 Employee FTE in FY 2013 to 5,281 in 2017. How many of these new 744 positions were faculty? How many were administration? Has faculty FTE increased at the same rate of student FTE? How can we get these numbers and make them easily accessible to our WSU community?

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