EWU board approves reduction targets

Trustees take middle ground in requiring cuts, approve use of more reserves

CHENEY – Eastern Washington University’s Board of Trustees have approved using more cash reserves and an allocation of reduction targets in order to close a $22.54 million operating budget shortfall.

At a special meeting today (July 24) held via Zoom, the board voted 8-0 in approving expense reduction targets of 13.5 percent for all university areas except Diversity and Inclusion and Academic Affairs. The latter will look for ways to come up with a 22.3 percent reductions in expenses while the former will be exempt from reductions.

The move is a middle ground between reduction scenarios first presented to the board in late May, ranging from across the board cuts of 18.7 percent for all departments on one end and 7.3 percent for all except Academic Affairs — which would have been cut 26.5 percent — on the other. In the case of Academic Affairs — whose budget is the largest of all at $71.81 million in 2020 — the decision means college deans, department chairs and faculty will have to come up with $16 million in cuts in 2021 rather than the $19 million many were forecasting and expecting.

The approved reductions would require cuts from the next largest segment, business and finance at $32.37 million, of $4.36 million in fiscal year 2021. Under the category cutting Academic Affairs by $19 million, business and finance would have been cut by $2.62 million, but cut by over $6 million in the across-the-board category.

Finally, the approved reductions require more money to be trimmed from the university’s portion of athletics – which totals just over $6.65 million in fiscal year 2020. The department must make reductions of $897,106, instead of the $485,589 it would have made if only cut by 7.3 percent but less than the $1.24 million under the 18.7 percent across-the-board category.

The board also approved using an extra 10 percent more from the university’s cash reserves to fill some of the budget gap. The board previously approved using 10 percent in reserves, totaling $1.5 million, but increased that to 20 percent over the next two years.

Vice President of Business and Finance Mary Voves said the middle-ground reductions are achievable, but acknowledged they will create hardships. She added that using the extra amount from reserves will not put the university in any danger.

The vote for increasing the amount of reserves was 7-1, with Trustee Uriel Ińiquez voting no.

For more on this story, read the July 30 issue of the Cheney Free Press.

John McCallum can be reached at [email protected]

Author Bio

John McCallum, Retired editor

John McCallum is an award-winning journalist who retired from Cheney Free Press after more than 20 years. He received 10 Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for journalism and photography, including first place awards for Best Investigative, Best News and back-to-back awards in Best Breaking News categories.


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