College of Liberal Arts

The Chronicle

A Newsletter of Research & Creative Activity, Scholarship, Teaching, & Service  |  Spring 2011
Photo: Doug Epperson

Doug Epperson

Message from the Dean

For the second consecutive biennium, WSU will see a dramatic reduction in its state appropriation. The exact amount of the reduction and the degrees of freedom available to the University in meeting that target will not be known until the house and senate budget bills are reconciled in conference committee and signed by the governor. It is not unreasonable to expect that the ultimate reduction will be somewhere between the $109.5 million cut in the house budget and the $111.8 million cut in the senate budget, with associated tuition increases in the 13–16 percent range per year. I am very concerned about the effects of the projected tuition increases on our students, so increasing scholarship support with philanthropic dollars will continue to be a high priority to minimize the impact of necessary tuition increases. Even with tuition increases offsetting a portion of the reduction in state appropriation, the net cut to the University will be about $50 million, which is about the same amount as the net reduction in the past biennium. Of course, the University's base is much smaller this time around, making things even more difficult.

Although we have no details regarding how the University will meet the budget cuts for 2011–2013, the president and provost have stated on several occasions that the approach to this reduction will be more strategic and centrally managed than in the past. President Floyd laid out the timeline and process for making those decisions in a recent Perspectives column.

According to the president's column, in June and July a university-wide budget reduction plan will be developed by academic and support area leadership, who will be guided in their decision-making by the dimensions of program quality, efficiency, centrality to WSU's long-term goals and land-grant mission, and impact on students. In mid-August, when the fall academic semester begins, the proposed budget reduction plan will be presented to the university community for review and comment. Faculty Senate hearings will take place in September for any proposed program discontinuations, and in October operating budgets for the 2011–2013 biennium will be distributed to colleges and units.

While I cannot predict to what extent the College of Liberal Arts will be affected by the upcoming reduction in state funding, cuts to the 2009–2011 biennium budget did result in several significant changes to the academic structure of the college. Those changes are in the final stages of implementation as follows:

  • The teach-out period for theatre majors will be complete at the end of the current semester when the Department of Theatre and Dance will be discontinued.
  • Effective fall 2011, the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences will be relocated physically and administratively from the College of Liberal Arts to WSU Spokane, where it will be aligned with the other health science disciplines.
  • The new Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies (CCGRS) formed from the Departments of Comparative Ethnic Studies and Women's Studies and the American Studies Program, having been approved by the Faculty Senate, awaits final authorization by the WSU Board of Regents.

Additionally, Provost Bayly has approved CLA to move forward with the process of merging the Departments of Philosophy and Political Science.

I would like to acknowledge and thank CLA's chairs and directors, from those who are concluding their terms to those who are continuing or have newly agreed to join the ranks, for their willingness to serve their departments and the college in these particularly difficult times. Without the strong leadership, hard work, and commitment of chairs, we could not have made, and continue to make, the forward-looking changes that I believe will ensure a stable future for our college.

I would like to express my admiration and appreciation for all that has been accomplished by our outstanding faculty and staff. At WSU's Academic Showcase this year, CLA was exceptionally well represented. Tim Kohler, regents professor in the Department of Anthropology, was selected to deliver the Distinguished Faculty Address; William "Bill" Lipe, professor emeritus of anthropology, received the Emeritus Society Legacy of Excellence Award; and Gregory Yasinitsky, regents professor in the School of Music, was presented with the Eminent Faculty Award. CLA scholars, artists, and researchers also presented 33 posters at the Academic Showcase poster session. In addition, CLA associate dean Carol Ivory received the Association for Faculty Women's Samuel H. Smith Leadership Award. I also had the honor of recognizing individual staff and faculty for outstanding scholarship, teaching, professional and institutional service, international activities, and staff excellence at the CLA Awards Ceremony on April 21.

Our successes this year do not stop there. We continue to teach record numbers of students, providing an excellent liberal arts education through which students learn important subject content as well as communication, problem-solving, and collaborative skills that are essential for job acquisition, employment success, personal development, and informed citizenship.

Proposals for external funding continue to climb and are nearing record levels for CLA, and our success rate in a highly competitive environment continues to increase as well. This fiscal year, to date, 75 proposals for extramural grants have been submitted through OGRD and 35 of those have been funded. In the development arena, we are well on our way to meeting our fiscal year goal, and as of December 2, when the public phase of the Campaign for Washington State University was launched, CLA was already over halfway to achieving our college campaign goal.

These many achievements enable me to argue forcefully, and often, for the centrality of the College of Liberal Arts, the quality of our research/creative activity and teaching, as well as the college's tremendously efficient contributions to the teaching mission of the University. Because of our many achievements, our well-established efficiency, and the increasing importance of tuition revenue, I believe that our college is currently more valued than at any time in recent history. This greater valuation should be relevant to budget decisions under consideration.

Despite the budgetary challenges we continue to experience, the people in CLA remain committed to excellence. For that I thank you and applaud you.

Best wishes to all for a good summer,

Doug


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