Skip to main content Skip to navigation
Washington State University
Faculty Senate One WSU Faculty Comments 2020 2021

Archive of OneWSU Comments

The white paper says that “WSU must expand its outreach through the growth of a unified system infrastructure known as ONEWSU. The system supports the campuses as they evolve their individual identities and serve their constituencies.” Further, “the growth in breadth, geographic diversity, and complexity of WSU’s system has not been matched with a statewide administrative structure.” The vision appears to be the addition of administrative positions (“other system officers will need to be identified”, eg Pullman Chancellor and Vice Chancellors). The white paper states that, at least in the short run, existing people would take on multiple roles, thus “there would not be a need for substantial investment in hiring for new leadership positions.”

I fully support the idea that WSU should be tailored to the communities in which it has a presence and that our multiple locations can be a strength. I have several questions regarding the white paper:

1) Administrator Resources. I don’t know what the workload is of existing administrators. I know that faculty are already very stretched and wonder if the same is true for administrators. How would their workload be affected by taking on multiple new administrative roles?

2) Coordination Costs. I know about some of the issues involved in trying to coordinate across campuses. My sense is that coordination takes significant time and energy for department chairs, staff, and administrators, which must come from somewhere. I’m wondering how these coordination costs affect our ability to perform our core mission (teaching, research, and community outreach). Does WSU have data on these costs and their impact on fulfilling our core mission? How would a ONEWSU affect coordination costs, and in turn, the resources available for our core mission?

3) Administrative Costs. WSU is a relatively small university spread across multiple locations. Many of our peers are spread across fewer locations. Presumably that means that their administrative overhead is lower and the service load of faculty is smaller – leaving more resources to dedicate to their core mission (teaching, research, community outreach). It’s not clear to me how WSU can afford to spend more on administration than other universities given our small size, current resources, and effects of the pandemic on enrollment and state funding. Presumably, we need a management structure that is as cost efficient as possible. How would ONEWSU accomplish this?

4) Faculty Service Loads. Relatedly, does WSU have data on the service loads of WSU faculty relative to faculty at peer institutions and how that service load affects teaching, research, and community engagement productivity? How would a ONEWSU affect faculty service loads?

5) Relative Payoffs for Investment Choices. What are the relative payoffs for our core mission of investing in faculty and graduate students versus investing in the “growth of a unified system infrastructure”? How would a ONEWSU affect our ability to hire and support faculty and graduate students in teaching, research, and community engagement? What are the implications of a ONEWSU for bureaucratic expansion and red tape?

6) Mismatch between Budget and Authority. Would a ONEWSU system have a centralized provost/dean structure, or would each campus have their own? If each campus has their own, how would this be paid for? If the dean/provost structure remains centralized, how will the mismatch between budget and authority be addressed? What would a ONEWSU do to address this mismatch?

6) Budget Constraints. WSU has constrained resources and, because of the pandemic, is likely to continue to face budget pressure. How would a ONEWSU reduce costs and increase efficiencies?


The changes in “One Faculty” and Extension appear to run contrary to what was told in the past. This is a drastic change and I am concerned it will change the work of Extension, decreasing the impact in the local communities.


There seem to me to be a lot of problems with this. But here’s the one that jumped out at me.

============
One Faculty
All faculty, regardless of rank or appointment, are committed to the same standard of academic excellence across the ONEWSU system. While we recognize the uniqueness of each campus’ foci and strengths, the standards for faculty career advancement are fundamentally shared at all WSU campuses, ensuring a consistent level of educational experience and interdisciplinary scholarly quality and productivity systemwide.

======================
In my 30 years here faculty have never been treated equally across campuses. And I think it’s probably impossible to do so.

Since we have no set standards for giving raises (such as step salaries), salaries have varied, often wildly due to salary compression, with each Chancellor making decisions without regard for what the standards were in Pullman. If individual department chairs wanted to advocate for a branch campus faculty member they could, with varied results, but if no one would advocate for whatever reason then inequities remained unaddressed for years. Also when has anyone in upper administration ever responded to what has been pointed out over and over by Vancouver faculty? The cost of living has been historically far higher in this area than in Pullman due to the high rents and house prices. When a tenured faculty member has to take a second job, as I did for years just to pay their rent, it can impact research productivity for obvious reasons.

Also class rotations vary hugely, with branch campus faculty often expected to be able to teach a rotation of 10 or more classes, which certainly impacts on research productivity as it may be more than a year, or years between opportunities to teach in fields we are working in. And when we are slotted to teach a class we haven’t taught for many years, we have to spend considerable time updating it. And then may not be able to teach it again for several more years.

I recognize that because different campuses have different budgets there is no easy way to create equity. But what I have seen in the past when Pullman tells us that we will now all be treated equally is that what really happens is that branch campus faculty are asked to do more, on top of what we are already doing. This happened when the justifications for course releases changed.

I could go on, but I won’t. I’m sure others will have things to say about this, too. I am close to retirement now, so I don’t expect to get any more salary and I finally do make the same as most of the professors at my rank in my department in Pullman. But for those of you who intend to be at WSU for more than 3 more years, this seems to me worrisome.


The Googled definition of a university is “an educational institution designed for instruction, examination, or both, of students in many branches of advanced learning, conferring degrees in various faculties, and often embodying colleges and similar institutions.” The ONEWSU model is the latest attempt to revise WSU’s strategy to deliver statewide university education possibilities. Originally (1986?) the idea was to deliver junior- and senior-level courses to Vancouver, Spokane, and the Tri-Cities in order to complement the local offerings at various community colleges. This was then revised to allow WSU to offer a four-year curriculum because the community colleges were not serving as an adequate feeder system to the upper-level courses and, in addition, offering upper-level courses only led to a low enrollment/high-cost situation. While WSU Vancouver and WSU Tri-Cities might be on a path where they might be thought of as smaller versions of WSU-Pullman in offering students a “university experience”, neither Everett nor Spokane qualify by this criterion. Everett is new and might be excused, but Spokane was one of the original campuses and, after initially trying to offer a university experience, it has now taken on the role of a health sciences school.

WSU-Spokane offers medically related degrees that cannot be obtained elsewhere at WSU but there is little evidence that WSU-Spokane is progressing toward becoming a university. The time schedule for Spokane’s Spring semester shows 34 departments as offering courses. But deeper searching reveals that only 10 of these “departments” have courses that they are teaching, with the rest relying exclusively on faculty located in Pullman or described as coming from Global Campus. Three of these 10 departments offer some form of supervised post-graduate instruction for teachers, an activity that was once located in Pullman. Six departments are involved in the health sciences, with programs that focus on students who have completed two years of college-level work elsewhere, such as a community college or another university. The Nursing curriculum in Spokane predates the regional campus and other programs, like Speech and Hearing, Pharmacy and Nutrition, were moved to Spokane following the establishment of the Spokane campus. Other programs moved to Spokane (Landscape Architecture, Construction Management) are no longer on the Spokane time schedule—these migrated back to Pullman within the School of Design and Construction. The UW-WAMI Program that once supported and was supported by WSU-Pullman’s life science faculties severed its ties to WSU after the medical school was established and is now operated in collaboration with Gonzaga.

I have trouble fitting Spokane’s degree of specialization into the concept of a university. In a ONEWSU formulation, WSU-Spokane looks like the university equivalent of a Potemkin village, where excellent medical degrees co-exist with nothing else. Vancouver and TriCities are where the real questions exist in the plan and the following are relevant to consideration:
1. WSU is a land-grant university. Do WSU Vancouver and WSU TriCities have the appropriate course offerings to qualify them independently as fulfilling a land grant mission or will their claiming this status require a wave in the direction of Pullman?;
2) Do WSU Vancouver and WSU TriCities now have a sufficiently balanced enrollment to allow them to function without subsidy from WSU Pullman?;
3) Are WSU Vancouver and WSU TriCities well enough developed across the board or even in select areas to carry the WSU Pullman reputation? Earlier this academic year I worked with a WSU Vancouver faculty member to nominate a very good graduate student for a scholarship award but, while the faculty member is excellent, arguing that the graduate student’s training environment was equivalent to that of other WSU graduate students was pushing the boundaries.

In the ONEWSU plan, there seems to be an attempt to claim potential goals as reality rather than the plan taking a clear look at what we have, what we are trying to do, and how best to get there. The regional campus-based faculty and administrators have some issues with the current management of the system from WSU Pullman, but the WSU Pullman faculty have some issues with WSU’s structure too. And ONEWSU’s 30,000-foot view of what to do next does not provide enough real information about the current situation to allow anyone to think hard about what has been accomplished in 35 years and what to do next. COVID has put yet another level to this since it is clear from our current online efforts and those of the Global Campus that the concept of needing a local presence in order to deliver a university education is not what it was 35 years ago.


The second white paper floats hypothetical changes in the structure of colleges and inter-campus faculty relationships that undermine the idea of One Degree as well as the idea of One Faculty. The only justification offered is the assumption that unique offerings determined by each campus are critical to responsiveness to community needs, and that the current matirx system for academic affairs somehow impedes this. I think a more informed idea of what our communities want is a degree of uniqueness in harmony with a system level offering – which WSU already already accomplishes in numerous locations. Citizens connect with all of WSU in their community campuses and centers, as much or more than they do with the aspects that are locally unique.

Decentralizing departments and colleges to campuses to create campus control of resources and programs will inevitably lead to fragmentation in degrees. What would our communities prefer, degrees in Education, Engineering or Accounting from WSU, or degrees unique to this or that campus? OneDegree does not mean that CAHNERS or CAS or any other college can’t have specialized programs offered to the system from a location, but it does require strong integration for curriculum, coordinated hiring and a coherent set of standards that would, for example, allow students to move seamlessly between campuses as necessary to pursue a degree. If anything I would argue that One Degree requires greater system responsibility from colleges to produce both local uniqueness and uniform WSU quality wherever the university is.

Campuses and centers can’t change where they are – they have to figure out how to win where they are planted. Colleges on the other hand, can work with campuses and centers to determine both ‘Where will we play?’ and ‘How will we win in those places?’ A big piece of how to win wherever WSU is is to deliver WSU quality in One Degree, with strategic joint commitments to unique local program mixes that may include locally hosted programs. What are called for are strategic tailoring and strategic commiments, not de-centralization of the faculty.

Goals need to be prioritized. If we are going to engage in system thinking in service of students, One Degree needs to come first. One Faculty and operational excellence in university-wide systems must support that priority.


Faculty Member wishes to remain anonymous:

I am concerned about this point: “Faculty members would coordinate and collaborate with colleagues across the WSU system and across disciplines – but would not formally be members of the same system ‘department or school.’”

In some campuses, there are only one or two members of a particular department. Many departments on smaller campuses have no tenured faculty. By no longer being part of the same department as their colleagues in other campuses, these individuals are likely to be further isolated, without access to mentoring and collaboration. In addition, it seems likely to impose a larger service burden on tenured and pre-tenure faculty at smaller campuses. They will have to provide mentorship, leadership, tenure review, and curriculum decisions that are currently spread out amongst the campuses. Although this could be alleviated a bit by combining departments into a single unit, they would still have to manage the individual majors within that new unit.

Relatedly, this change is likely to further isolate graduate students at smaller campuses. Currently, graduate students at smaller campuses interact with their peers at other campuses through department-wide, often virtual, events. At smaller campuses, they would now have a very small cohort of graduate students. Overall, this change is likely to reduce the quality of graduate education and research at smaller campuses.


Over the past two decades, WSU administrators have presented a plethora of institutional “innovations” like ONEWSU, which often distract from concurrent cost-cutting measures in academic programs, the freezing of needed hires and faculty salaries or, as in the current moment, proposed furloughs (pay cuts). Yet we have seen the number of administrators steadily increase–as in this latest proposal unaffected by belt-tightening–as core academic missions of instruction, research, outreach, and service have suffered.

Over the past two decades WSU faculty have been held to higher standards and required to chase more grant funding even while less funding is available, increase class sizes, master new technologies, endure cuts to travel/research budgets, and in general perform more labor as the number of tenure-track colleagues have diminished.

At the same time, declines in federal and state funding have essentially privatized much of public higher education, shifting costs to students, who leave WSU (and other institutions) deeply indebted.

Although the decline of tenure-track faculty (and rise of contingent faculty) is a national problem, the percentage decline at WSU, with its R-1 aspirations, has been particularly dramatic, as revealed in this summary:
WSU Tenure-Track Positions System-Wide
2000 – 77.4%; 2010 – 66.3%; 2020 – 47.9%
WSU Vancouver
2000 – 75.6%; 2010 – 63.2%; 2020 – 39%
(source: https://ir.wsu.edu/instructional-faculty/)

These figures suggest the stealthy and incremental elimination of tenure and academic freedom. As you know, the entire principle of tenure is currently under attack in states across the country (and if you want a succinct defense of tenure, see the latest from Iowa https://www.press-citizen.com/story/opinion/contributors/guest-editorials/2021/01/31/how-university-tenure-benefits-everyone/4301631001/).

Faculty across the country have raised alarms about administrative bloat (a chief factor in reducing the numbers of T/T faculty), and with the current budget crisis WSU faculty need to demand a long-needed reconsideration of priorities. In 2014 the AAUP called for institutions to rebuild capacity in academic positions that serve the core academic missions: “Unless universities reinvest in full-time, tenure track faculty, students’ educational experience, quality, and success will be compromised.” The AAUP report highlights two broad categories of dramatic growth: contingent academic appointments and nonfaculty positions. By far the largest rate of growth, 369 percent, has been in full-time nonfaculty professional managerial positions. The number of part-time faculty members grew by 286 percent, and full-time non-tenure-track faculty ranks swelled by 259 percent. In contrast, tenure-track faculty appointments grew by a mere 23 percent. (source: https://www.aaup.org/reports-publications/2013-14salarysurvey)

The ONEWSU proposal centers “Operating Excellence,” but it does not explain how it will reduce inefficiencies, duplication, and administrative costs. Instead, it will appoint two new expensive administrators: WSU System Provost and Executive Vice President and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (WSU Pullman). (And how many other functionaries will each position require?) It is difficult to count the current numbers of upper-administrative positions in the WSU system (I invite others to try to quantify) since this seems to be a moving target, but there are at least 25 Executive Officers (President, Provost, Chancellors, Vice-Presidents, Vice-Provosts), and over 61 Deans and Associate Deans. There are over a hundred Vice Chancellors and Directors. The cost of these positions is enormous.

Although an ever-shrinking T/T faculty is regularly assessed and evaluated, the number of administrators has expanded without the same kind of scrutiny. While programs and faculty are cut for having few majors or missing university “priorities,” what about administrators who miss their targets? Are they evaluated and removed for failing, for example, to raise the amount of money promised for the university, provide essential services, or effectively convince the public and state legislature to increase support for one of its flagship universities?

There are many questions to raise regarding the ONEWSU proposal, but I urge faculty and the Faculty Senate to call for a freeze in any future administrative hires and re-evaluation of existing administrative positions, applying the same cost-cutting zeal that has been applied to core academic programs. We need to put the emphasis back on academic positions and the core missions of research and teaching and reduce, not increase, administrative bloat.

Laurie Mercier

Read how faculty across the country are trying to resist austerity measures and track administrative bloat:
Faculty analyses of Ohio University’s budget crisis:
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e236a7120684f527ffb75c5/t/5e593916c5fa991928af72d8/1582905623267/OU+Budget+White+Paper+2019-20_Version+2.0-2.pdf
https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5e236a7120684f527ffb75c5/t/5e61588d546f912c61c9d8a2/1583437965593/2020+Vision+Final.pdf
Miami U. https://www.miamiaaup.org/tag/administrative-bloat/
Univ. of Oregon: https://uomatters.com/tag/administrative-bloat
A mechanical engineering professor at Michigan Technological University provides a formula to measure bloat: https://academeblog.org/2021/01/28/measures-of-administrative-bloat/


Anonymous:

The OneWSU proposal now before the Senate is problematic for many reasons.

First, despite the supposed timeline, it appears to have fallen from the sky, with little to no (?) input from the very academic departments whose operations it would impact so heavily. In the four days between whitepaper versions (1/24 and 1/28) the section regarding “One Faculty” has changed so dramatically it could almost be considered a reversal – based on what? On input from whom? The vision has shifted from being “One Faculty” with shared standards and a “consistent level of educational experience”, to being so “decentralized” that faculty at different campuses wouldn’t even belong to the same department or school. And now it is being rushed to Faculty Senate for a vote? I am, frankly, tired of backroom initiatives conceived by administrators with no input from impacted parties.

Furthermore – as noted by other colleagues, it is positively incoherent to call ourselves “One” WSU and then undermine that notion with a proposal to divorce systemwide academic units into entirely independent entities. It is also unclear to me what the actual vision of the “One” Degree is – the first white paper waffles between whether a single, or local diploma designation is appropriate, but the second barely mentions the issue. Are we proposing to continue with a single systemwide degree or not? If we are separating campuses into locally-funded, hired, tenured, and operating entities, it is disingenuous to pretend that we could continue to, in good faith, offer a single “WSU” degree. Is that really what we want?

There are dozens of other questions that the proposals (I refer to both white papers, since Version 2 is not comprehensive) raise, but my focus is primarily on the seeming reversal regarding the “One” Faculty principle, and the deeply troubling consequences that total campus (academic) autonomy would bring:

– WP 2 mentions that WSU faculty would no longer belong to the same “department or school” – but it does not address college affiliation. Would we still belong to a systemwide CAHNRS, CAS, COE, etc., but administer disciplinary programs independently? Or was this an oversight on the part of the author, and even cross-campus college affiliation is also meant to be severed? I must assume the latter, based on the notes regarding hiring and tenure, but the lack of specificity is notable.

– The documents harp on the unnecessary redundancies created by a multi-campus system, but if academic units (here I refer to departments, schools, AND colleges) are meant to be self-governing on each campus, this means recreating, on each campus, the governance and curricular committees that currently operate systemwide – up to and including Faculty Senate. Who will work on UCORE renewals for a particular department – or is it up to each campus to decide what designations they want? Who decides what degrees should look like, or what the course descriptions should be, or how many credits a minor should include, or how many practical hours are needed in a capstone course? What about other academic regulations? How will a department of two (or four, or one) write its own T&P guidelines? The implications for service obligations, as noted by others, are staggering.

– Relatedly, if each unit is free to develop their own (versions of) programs on each campus – would that not create some sort of competition between campuses to get students to attend? Will campuses and programs that simplify their degrees be rewarded with higher enrollments?

– I am deeply concerned, furthermore, about the proposal’s likely effect on smaller/newer programs (with program, I refer to faculty, majors, and minors within a school or department, not college) at non-Pullman campuses. What happens to that faculty, and those programs, when they are cut off from their colleagues? Will they retain any degree of disciplinary autonomy? Will local department/school leaders now be treated as full Chairs and Directors of their newly independent programs (and compensated as such?) Or will they, as has been noted by another commenter, possibly be forced into mishmashed units, run by leaders without the necessary disciplinary knowledge to effectively administer a variety of majors/minors, let alone to assess them for T&P purposes (and, again, who will write said guidelines?) Will they even be able to offer their degrees? Many departments operate quite harmoniously with shared expertise and instruction across campuses – take away the affiliation, and you take away the diversity of expertise that so benefits medium and small programs – and even some larger ones, too.

– Furthermore, non-Pullman campuses, as pointed out by a colleague, suffer even more than Pullman from a dearth of TT faculty – at WSU Vancouver, only 39% of faculty are TT, and there are even some programs which are entirely, or nearly so, run by career-track and adjunct faculty. This proposal effectively abandons an enormous number of NTT faculty not only to what would likely amount to double the service obligation, but perhaps greater teaching loads, as well as pressure to modify curriculums to increase enrollments. Research and scholarly agendas, across the board, would suffer. Programs would be diminished due to a lack of access to graduate students. I do not doubt that this now-isolated faculty would also be imperiled by potential abuses of administrators who may be only too eager to cut or combine programs, and who will do so more readily in the absence of tenured defenders. While some large and well-established programs may welcome the autonomy, in an overall climate of ever-dwindling TT percentages, we, as faculty, need to hold on to whatever clout we can.

Does WSU need to revise its administrative structure and functioning? Absolutely. I happen to concur in that distinguishing system leadership from Pullman leadership (i.e., the establishment of a Pullman chancellor) is a long overdue step. I also agree that individual campuses should have the ability and agility to serve their communities, rise to the challenges and opportunities of their student populations, and leverage the particular expertise of their faculty – there is nothing wrong with customization and variation in programs. But to turn to complete campus autonomy as the solution is throwing out the baby with the bathwater. There is much that is beneficial and important in belonging to a systemwide faculty, and I agree with others who believe that it is absolutely possible to keep those relationships and affiliations while still responding to calls for budgetary efficiency and programmatic dexterity.

The proposal is shocking in its poor timing and incoherence, both internally, and against the greater backdrop that is life at this time. To present this initiative in the midst of everything else we are experiencing – a pandemic, budget cuts and freezes, likely furloughs, and a general climate of instability and insecurity – to say that it is now time not only to divert funds to athletics (!!), but to also completely rework the functioning of our university, and to spend even more money on administrators (even absent formal hires, there will still be expenditures in the form of additional stipends, staff support, travel funds, etc.), on a proposal of truly dubious merit, unknown origin, and insufficient research … it stretches credulity. I urge the Faculty Senate to stop this proposal in its tracks.


An anonymous comment:

“The severing of smaller campuses from the Pullman campus proposed in the 1/28/21 OneWSU White Paper would do disasterous and needless harm to WSU’s capacity to “provide education to all, conduct scholarly inquiry that benefits society, and share expertise that boosts the lives of individuals and communities” across the state of Washington. As a tenure-track STEM faculty member at the Vancouver campus, I consider the proposed changes to present a dire emergency for our campus research community because they would end the kind of “world-class research” and training environment our campus is “known for” (as stated in the first White Paper).

-Over two decades, Vancouver has assembled an R1 level STEM faculty whose research brings in millions NSF, NIH and USDA dollars to WSU, earns top accolades at internationally, nationally (eg. NSF CAREER awards), and at the WSU system level. We provide undergraduate research opportunities to students in rapidly growing populations in Southwest Washington and this helps to propel local and first generation students into scientific careers and further training. We confer MS and PhD graduate students who go on to be scientific leaders locally, in our state, and beyond.

-The high calibre of research and training Vancouver science faculty provide, despite our small 3500 undergraduate population, is made possible by the support, culture of excellence, and structure provided by our home departments which are centered in Pullman. Our salaries, startup costs, and facilities are fully paid for at the Vancouver campus (and thus do not burden Pullman financially), but our chairs, tenure homes, colleagues and collaborators are largely based in Pullman. This is the situation into which we agreed to work when we were hired at Vancouver. There is no feasible way to recreate all that our departmental culture provides at the Vancouver campus. Vancouver science faculty have been hired to cover diverse aspects of scientific expertise that spans several Pullman departments and colleges. There is essentially no plan for how Vancouver faculty could suddenly, and in the midst of a pandemic, organize completely new undergraduate science degrees, curricula, a graduate program, degree requirements, etc. It is utter madness to think that Vancouver faculty could accomplish this–we can’t even set foot on campus to meet with one another and, like the rest of the country, are struggling to help sick parents and kids doing remote learning.

-The internally inconsistent “OneWSU” proposal to sever departmental connections is not only frightening in its proposed changes, but also in the manner in which it has dropped, fully formed from the sky. The justification for the massive changes proposed on 1/28/21 is to “to better serve its students and constituencies” and yet there has been zero dialog with Vancouver faculty about the implications of the proposal for our community’s programs, research, teaching, or service.

-WSU has invested millions of dollars and countless years in building an incredibly strong science faculty in Vancouver. We pack an outsized punch for our small size. If the proposed changes come to pass, the only logical career step for Vancouver science faculty interested in R1 calibre research and graduate student training (which is what we were explicitly hired to do at Vancouver) would be to flee to other institutions. This White Paper has already prompted some to begin to do so.

-I strongly advocate for maintaining our current organizational structure during the pandemic, and then for a more inclusive and thoughtful consideration of how to correct the “inefficiencies” the authors of the White Papers state will hamper our future growth.”


I strongly echo these concerns. This proposed rearrangement will likely mean a loss of access to graduate students and possibly centralized research funds (for which all system faculty compete equally). Even if the Vancouver campus is still technically part of an R1 system, based on my read of the white papers and the many conversations I’ve seen so far, we would not be able to function in that capacity and it would likely take years to build those capabilities locally. I think it likely that many of our research-active faculty will leave if resources are not present. Does the central WSU leadership want to reduce the non-Pullman campuses to teaching-intensive campuses without research? If so, this proposal is a great way to start. I do not see anything here to give me confidence that the system leadership sees past Pullman, nor that they truly believe in the WSU System.


This discussion and white paper may address the administration ideas, but it is completely removed from the actual academic situation between the Pullman Campus and others. In most cases very few faculty exist in other Campus department, so they would not be able to survive. The research capacity is minimal so they need Pullman. The graduate programs would simply die without critical mass of students. The majority of undergraduate and graduate courses at the branch campuses are taught by WSU Pullman faculty. So this action would kill the other campuses outside general teaching and put them in the community college status. The fact the WSU Pullman administration and Reagents would even discuss this suggests they are very far removed from the current activities between the campuses. I suggest the Administration become educated about WSU and the other campuses prior to suggesting such disruptive ideas. This is not a good sign from the WSU Pullman or Reagents administration, show a compete disconnect with actual teaching and research activities between the campuses. This should stop immediately for any further discussion or consideration.


Most of the campuses are already budgetarily distinct from one another, yet the trans-campus units (departments, colleges, schools) provide systemic efficiencies, so that each campus can benefit from expertise, teaching, mentorship from other campuses. The proposal to separate each campus in terms of tenure and promotion criteria and administrative units threatens the accreditation standards that makes WSU R-1. Truly, the current WSU system makes the sum greater than the parts. The current proposal threatens to undermine WSU’s remarkable efficiencies and, in the end, will cost more than the current system, yet weaken the value of the degrees it confers.


I am relaying comments from Vancouver constituents. Brief now, more will come.

Junior faculty who love research will just all go back on the job market. They’ll have a really effective cost-savings, losing tons of their workforce – and perhaps among the portions of the workforce that are working especially hard to bring in lucrative grant monies.

Where is the innovative growth in the system happening? Seems surely it must be at least substantively at the smaller campuses. Surely at Pullman, too — but does leadership really want to crush research motivation, and so innovation?

This will have a great effect of pitting the smaller campuses against each other. Smaller campuses will compete to be “THE business campus” or “THE comp sci/tech campus”

How does this square with the federally chartered STATE-WIDE land grant mission?


The two white papers talk a lot about systems change (e.g., budget changes, admin changes/additions) and in White Paper 2: “Faculty members would coordinate and collaborate with colleagues across the WSU system and across disciplines but would not formally be members of the same system “department or school.” Instead, there would be local program directors reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs (VCAA) for each campus (p. 2).

I think this is vague and leads faculty to wonder what it means…? If I am no longer part of Teaching & Learning in Pullman where the graduate programs in Education (e.g., PhD, MA) are housed, does that mean that I could not “formally” teach/be a program chair/advise in graduate Education programs?


We can all agree that each campus has unique needs, resources and attributes that provide unique learning opportunities for our students, research opportunities for our faculty and engagement opportunities within their communities.

With that said, the description within the WP2 section on ONEWSU Faculty appears to have the potential to negatively impact the efficiency and effectiveness of ONEWSU as well as run contrary to stated Operating Principles of the WSU System Strategic Plan 2020-2025, in particular, those articulated on page 12: One WSU, One Degree, One Faculty, Shared Accountability, and Operational Excellence.

This is certainly likely to be the case with regards to the Carson College of Business systemwide strategy and within the College – the systemwide strategy of the School of Hospitality Business Management. I am uniquely positioned to have experienced both the positive and negative effects of having dispersed campus faculty attached to a department and college rather than a more autonomous approach with deference to individual campuses – while serving as CCB-TC Academic Director for the WSU Tri-Cities campus as well as my current role as Director for the School of Hospitality Business Management across the WSU system. As a whole, the current approach for a true ONEWSU faculty appears more amenable to strategic success for both the system, college and individual campuses based on sharing of knowledge, support and financial resources. Below are just some examples of benefits to the current arrangement that may be jeopardized if changing to a local campus/VCAA affiliation with the final approval for all programs being determined by the WSU system chief academic officer.

Examples of support by the faculty attachment to a College and Department (in this case, School) within the WSU system.
1) In the current arrangement, the CCB provides ½ of the financial support to ensure there is a qualified student advisor on the TC campus to support CCB majors.
2) The central CCB – Carson Center provides support for the Next Carson COUG – amplifier program to ensure required activities for business majors and minors are tracked and made available across the system.
3) A separation of faculty from a central CCB strategy would potentially jeopardize AACSB accreditation at the TC and other campuses as we could no longer make the argument that we use a system-wide strategy for academic delivery, P&T decisions, etc. – so each campus would be evaluated on their own merits only.
4) The current CCB administration, system faculty and local campus administration have been supportive of the idea that campuses may have resources or areas of differentiation in types of academic business offerings that fit with their needs and expertise. For example, creating a Wine & Beverage Business Mgmt program focus at the WSU-TC campus, creating a Wine Business degree at the Masters level housed at WSU-TC, and sharing/swapping classes across the system to take advantage of dispersed expertise, student needs, and faculty resources.
5) A system-wide effort to create professional development programs in business; originating from the TC campus with the work of Dr. Giese as coordinator but financially supported by the CCB-Pullman.
6) Specific examples for our department (School of Hospitality Business Management) highlights these points:
a. As Director of the SHBM, my base campus is WSU-TC because of this it brings more recognition to this campus, more connections with industry, and my ability to make decisions to share resources to not only my home campus but across campuses of Pullman, Everett, VAN, TC, Global Campus and Brig. For example:
b. Faculty travel and research support funding is topped up by the SHBM to ensure all SHBM faculty have equal opportunity across the system.
c. We give out more than $250,000 in student scholarships each year – originating from WSU Pullman but available at all campuses that offer our HBM degrees.
d. Provide financial support for HBM majors from all campuses to attend career fairs and Bellhop gala/networking events in Pullman during Hospitality Week each year.
e. SHBM faculty participate as committee members and chairs for SHBM PhD students across all campuses.
f. SHBM faculty share in governance across the system on committees, supervising student clubs, etc.
g. Scheduling classes across the campuses (a master schedule is developed) that offer SHBM degrees to enhance efficiency and effectiveness – sharing courses at two or more campuses, using dispersed faculty to teach in areas of expertise, faculty for Global Campus and Brig, providing access to unique electives of interest to students, and having available sections for students to ensure timely graduation that fit their needs. These efforts are particularly valuable for low enrollment programs to grow and flourish, as well as allow smaller campuses to take risks for innovative programs, majors or offer minors in areas that would be unavailable otherwise.
Ultimately, the most recent WP2 draft creates the real potential for negative impacts for on-going strategic endeavors across that system. Separating the faculty from their respective disciplines in the system will undoubtedly reduce systemwide engagement and create the opportunity for local leadership to (while well meaning) make decisions that harm the overall WSU brand and certainly the brand of Carson College of Business and the School of Hospitality Business Management.

My other concern is the ability to attract or retain quality faculty at the non-Pullman campuses as part of the appeal is being part of a larger association with peers within the business discipline. It would also become more difficult to sell potential students and their parents on why they should decide to attend community centered WSU campuses – without the University experience, without the same quality of faculty and other resources.

In the end, the way WP2 describes the ONEWSU faculty will certainly reduce incentives for Deans, Chairs, Directors or faculty to work for the greater good and do the hard work needed to make WSU achieve its goal of being ONEWSU.


I agree with the comments above about the serious negative consequences the current ONEWSU white papers (1 and 2 so far) on departments that have worked long and hard to cultivate unity and academic strength across campuses. I also do not see how this tenure, promotion, and departmental separation by campus could allow the non-Pullman campuses to retain and sustain Carnegie R1 status over time. To quote the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education, “Doctoral Universities: Includes institutions that awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees during the update year and also institutions with below 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees that awarded at least 30 professional practice doctoral degrees in at least 2 programs. Excludes Special Focus Institutions and Tribal Colleges. The first two categories [R1 and R2] include only institutions that awarded at least 20 research/scholarship doctoral degrees and had at least $5 million in total research expenditures (as reported through the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research & Development Survey (HERD)).”

WSU Vancouver, for example, has spent a considerable amount of its resources and efforts in recruiting, promoting, and retaining R1-level faculty and graduate students since it became a four-year bachelor campus in 2006. The separation from Pullman proposed by the ONEWSU papers will likely force an exodus of faculty interested in continuing to have R1 research programs. It will also likely prevent future hires of high-research-productivity faculty. Some Vancouver faculty will become academically unhoused without a direct and formal connection with the Pullman campus.


The first white paper states that students transfer to the Spokane campus following two years at another institution. Since this is true for only a few degree programs on the campus, the statement should be edited or removed. Thank you.


March 5, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Anonymous:

White Paper 2 emphasizes the importance of “explicitly recogniz[ing] the strong bond between communities and the WSU campuses that service those communities.” It has always been puzzling to me why WSU administration has in the past required that campuses have the same majors. This makes little sense as the smaller campuses often do not have the faculty or enrollment to support the same majors as Pullman, and different communities have different strengths and needs. One result of this requirement of consistency across campuses is that the urban campuses have had to engage in strategies such as spending money on hiring adjuncts to fill teaching slots instead of investing funds in support for tenure track faculty and graduate students. This has not been good for students, faculty, or the research enterprise. To me, it makes a lot more sense for WSU to offer majors that are tailored to the community context and the resources available at the different campuses. For example, urban campuses could successfully offer interdisciplinary majors (as is done at liberal arts colleges and branch campuses elsewhere that have similar issues). I’m all for variation in majors across campuses. But I do not see why campuses need more autonomy in order for this to happen. Why not have a system-level council with representation from all the campuses that strategically plans which majors make sense at which campus? It seems to me that this would maximize synergy and efficient use of resources, and minimize counterproductive competition across campuses, while also meeting the goal of serving the diverse communities in which we are located. I am suggesting that in order to best serve our communities, WSU needs more administrative integration, not less.


March 5, 2021 at 3:42 pm

Anonymous:
As we know, the current WSU structure does not work well. It has administrative and staffing redundancies, lack of clarity about campus and system levels, and a disjuncture between responsibility for programs/faculty (academic chairs/deans) and spending authority for those programs/faculty (campus chancellors). Many faculty have been wanting a change to the system and are pleased to see the administration begin to tackle this issue. We recognize that restructuring the university is a difficult task and we appreciate the administration’s willingness to work on it. At the same time, the university is experiencing budget and enrollment uncertainty. Further, it has been experiencing, and will be experiencing into the future, the budget consequences of previous administration/Board of Regents’ decisions that have reduced WSU’s investment in its core knowledge mission and left us with financial commitments that are inconsistent with that mission.

Given that the knowledge mission is the university’s “product” we feel that it is crucial that the budget support that core mission and that the university rigorously scrutinize any expenses not directly related to it. We are concerned about the budget implications of the proposed CEO/CAO model. It is not enough to say that there will only be one new hire, and everything else will just involve a redistribution of tasks. Instead, given budget and enrollment uncertainties, it is important not just to maintain administrative expenses, but to reduce them in order to free up resources to invest in the core knowledge mission of the university and to develop new revenue-generating programs.

We ask the administration to provide a thorough analysis of the budget implications of this model and the two other models in the Parks paper to the faculty and the Board of Regents. Which of these models will best ensure that WSU uses its resources to maintain the quality of the knowledge enterprise and to develop new revenue generating programs given budget and enrollment uncertainties?

A thorough budget accounting of these three options will increase faculty confidence in the restructuring effort, make it easier to shepherd changes through the faculty senate, and increase faculty trust in the administration. Again, we appreciate the difficulty of the task and the willingness of the administration to address these issues head on.


March 5, 2021 at 3:47 pm

The following was submitted anonymously for consideration. Since it text-heavy, it is linked below as a pdf.
WSU Growth


The main argument for the change of the system is alleged inefficiency of the current system. Therefore, the main criterion for the validity of the proposal should be the efficiency of the proposed new system. The most telling measure of efficiency is the administrative overhead, specifically the fraction of the budget that is spent on administration, rather than on the main purpose of the university (teaching and research). I have seen nothing (yet) in the supporting documents which would demonstrates savings in administrative overhead. A vague promise (of a more efficient system) is just a vague promise. Demonstration requires details. How would the new system be more efficient? Will the number of administrative positions increase or decrease? Would the administrative overhead (in $$) increase or decrease? Without such details, it is impossible to judge the proposal, and therefore, impossible to support it.