Last week at the ASWU meeting, many gathered in the crow's nest to hear Beck discuss how the Costa Rica Center and Health Center (among other things) are affected by next fiscal year's budget cuts. Beck began by saying,
"Its fantastic to see everyone here. I have read several emails. I applaud you for being here, this is what students ought to be doing: speaking up for what they believe in."
For the next 45 minutes or so, Beck talked about budget cuts and a few prominent programs that will be effected and will directly effect students--the CRC, health center and printing money.
First Beck gave a brief review of our current financial status. "The financial health of [this] institution is strong," he said going on to point out that while it is not a "budget crisis" at the institutional level per se, it is for "certain individuals and programs." He explained that our debt was due, in large part, to "not hitting our numbers" in student enrollment for instance and thus not meeting budget expectations. He emphasized a desire for transparency as the institution works to meet these financial challenges.
After he explained some number crunching, he assured the students that this data and these decisions are products of "a long process beginning in October" made up of a "representative task force including students, staff, and faculty."
Then he began unravelling three key programs that will be directly effected by these budget cuts..
In the interest of accuracy and transparency, I'll display the email Beck sent to the whole campus on February 28th:
A Message from President Taylor on the Costa Rica Center on Feb. 28th, 2014.
Dear Whitworth community,
After hearing input from students, faculty and staff concerning measures under consideration for closing Whitworth’s projected $1.34 million budget gap next year, I met with fellow cabinet members recently to make some final decisions. Among the most difficult choices that we made was our final decision to suspend semester-long programming at Whitworth’s Costa Rica Center (CRC) for the 2014-15 academic year. Many members of our community were present at public presentations last week leading up to this decision, and many followed up with written comments and questions; others who were not able to attend those presentations let their voices be heard through emails and other correspondence. The feedback reflected both support for and disagreement with the proposal to suspend CRC programming. Without exception, those communications have been received with much appreciation.
The CRC has been successful on many fronts. The students who have studied there have had valuable, and in many cases transformative, educational and cultural experiences. There is no debate on this front, which is why this decision is so difficult. Much of the communication we’ve received in the past week has pointed to those shared experiences, and we celebrate all of the ways that the CRC has enriched the life of the university and the lives of our students. I’m so grateful for directors Lindy and Dinorah Scott, and for the many U.S. and Costa Rican staff members who have served so well at the CRC. This decision is no reflection on their fine work. I am deeply aware of the human costs associated with this decision, both in terms of displaced employees and the ways this suspension will impact our host families, internship sites, and the greater San Jose community. We will work hard to ease those transitions, to the extent we are able, and to maintain as many of those relationships as possible in case the CRC reopens in the future.
The CRC has experienced various challenges in its first four years of operation, including the difficulty of delivering a predictable curriculum and the challenge of low, unstable and unpredictable enrollment, resulting in a high cost per student. The anticipated direct costs (operating and non-operating) of the CRC for the Fall, January and Spring terms in 2014-15 are $902,000. The estimated savings for suspending the Fall 2014 and Spring 2015 programming, while continuing to offer programming during Jan Term 2015, is estimated to be $457,000. This accounts for the Costa Rican personnel and other expenses needed to maintain the facility well, even in our absence, and for the interest expense the university must pay on its internal loan. The forgone room and board revenue of approximately $52,000 brings the net savings anticipated from the suspension to $405,000.
Contemporaneous with this decision, I’ve asked Provost Carol Simon to immediately form a Costa Rica Center Task Force made up of students, faculty and staff. The group’s charge will include outlining and evaluating alternatives for curricular design, staffing, student recruitment, cooperative agreements with other educational institutions, and more sustainable business models. This task force, chaired by former faculty president and professor Donna Pierce, will start its work immediately. I’m grateful to Donna and her fellow task force members, Professors Bob Buckham, Grant Casady, Katie Creyts, Katherine Karr-Cornejo, staff members Jolyn Dahlvig and Sue Jackson, and students Audrey Evans and Danny Parker, for their important service. It’s important to note that even if the task force ultimately recommends and the university decides to permanently close the CRC, it would be our intention to re-direct the funds currently being invested in the CRC toward other international-study initiatives. The question before us is not about our commitment to equipping global citizens, but whether the CRC represents the best use of resources for achieving our ambitious and important goals for study-abroad participation.
I have received several questions from community members, including ASWU, concerning alternative estimates of CRC costs and the projected savings of suspending semester programming. Many of these alternative narratives have arisen from comparing the budgeted costs and savings I’ve outlined above with figures that have been part of an internal accounting report used to provide year-to-year comparisons for sources and uses of certain funds. This internal report does show that the financial health of the CRC has gradually improved over time. Some have used these figures to argue that the CRC is profitable. But this report does not capture the total cost of running the CRC. This accounting report was never intended to do so. It does not fully reflect such factors as the considerable capital improvements that have been made (and may continue to be made) to the facility and equipment, scheduled loan repayment and interest expense on the approximately $3 million of capital expense the university is carrying on the facility, and the full cost of providing Whitworth faculty to teach in Costa Rica. Indeed, all of these costs are not fully reflected even in the $902,000 total budget figure I reported earlier in this message. In the four years of CRC operation, the revenues derived from the program have contributed nothing to its interest and debt obligations. This is on top of the large investments and subsidies the university is providing.
I have also received questions about whether alternative plans for continuing semester programming in a less costly way next year were fully considered. The cabinet and I did consider all alternative plans that were forwarded to us. We decided not to pursue those alternatives because we had serious doubts about their financial and academic viability. For example, one of the alternatives called for having a very large percentage of courses taught by adjunct instructors. My fellow cabinet members and I determined that this proposal was not consistent with the Whitworth-like experience we are promising our students. Another proposal was based on estimates of enrollment for next year that we judged to be overly optimistic. The cabinet determined that basing such a large and important budget decision on uncertain outcomes was not responsible. All of this reinforced our sense that time and a task force are needed to systematically explore the best ways forward for the CRC.
I want you to know that many hours of thought and prayer have been put into making this decision and the other decisions that will help us achieve a sustainable budget for Whitworth University. We have made every effort to listen carefully to the input that we have received. This decision will not find universal agreement, and it is disappointing and disheartening to many, including me. I find great comfort in knowing that Whitworth is filled with energetic and bright students, and dedicated faculty and staff, each of whom is committed to the value of international education. Those commitments give me confidence in the road ahead.
Beck A. Taylor
In other news, the results are back from the Campus Experience Survey. Keep your eyes open for those results soon.
Here are some cool things happening this week if you're interested!:
Forecast Sat. 1st-Sat. 8th:
Quote of the week:
"Love in action is a harsh and dreadful thing compared with love in dreams." -Dostoevsky
Photo of the week:
National Geographic (http://on.natgeo.com/1fmuDtq)
"'There was a beautiful morning crescent moon, and the ice was cracking on the frozen lake,' says Your Shot contributor Sho Shibata, who had spent the night in his car waiting for dawn on Lake Towada in Aomori, Japan. The peaceful scene wasn't captured without incident: As he walked out to get the shot, Shibata's leg fell through the ice."
Video of the Week:
Phil Moore, Off-Campus Senator
Office: 509.777.4285 Email: email@example.com
I hope you're off to swell start this Spring 2014 semester.
In back-to-back meetings, ASWU's been visited by new faces around Whitworth: last week we heard from Gerry Gimmill, the new VP of Finance and Administration and this week we met Rod Sandberg, our new football coach.Gerry graduated from Whitworth in '85 and really loves Spokane. He's been working with different departments around campus like risk management, IT, facilities, etc. as well as partnering with others to handle the 1.5 million dollar budget deficit since he began in early November. The plan for the budget will be released in April at the latest. When we asked Gerry if he had any words for the student body, he said:
I’ve been here for three months, but I’ve found that there are many dedicated people here that work really hard for all of you and it’s beyond just a business venture. These people love you guys a lot and care a lot about your experience here at Whitworth.
Rod also had some great things to say. He talked about his story, which gave us cool insight into the kind of guy he is as well as his vision for our football team. Coach Sandberg and his family have been at Wheaton College in Illinois for the past 18 years. He told us about his 4 program goals: Faith, Future, Family, and Fun. He seems really interested in investing in the lives of his players and coaches as well as the greater Whitworth and Spokane communities--and he's serious about it too!
Have you heard about the plan to pack 1 million meals for families in need in Spokane and the greater Northwest? This'll take place at the beginning of May. The idea is for us to fill the fieldhouse with tons of folks from Whitworth and around the community to pack meals--assembly line style. You might want to know more specifically where the food is going, or how much money we still need to raise, or how we're actually going to pull this off, or why the newsletter is so long this week.
In any case, please talk to me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or others so that you can be heard and I can do my job better.
And for more info: http://bit.ly/1dLL7VA
upcoming off-campus event:
ICE SKATE NIGHT at Riverfront Park
507 N. Howard St.
Wednesday, February 19th from 7-830pm
Some Campus Happenings:
Outdoor Rec: Ski van to 49 for night skiing leaves URec Sunday at 2:30pm and returns around 9:15pm. Shuttle is $5, lift ticket $4 and 2 cans of food. CPR class Feb. 21. Wilderness first aid course certification Feb. 22-23. Snowshoe night hike Feb. 28. Keep an eye out for two spring break trips.
Climbing wall: climb the height of El Capitan (3,000 ft.) in a month. $5 to being, t-shirt for finishers.
League of Pirates: 4 competitive teams. Practice on Saturday night. Whitworth Spring Championship. $500 worth in prizes. First Cyber Battle of Spokane coming soon!
Polar Plunge: service opportunity, fundraising effort organized by law enforcement agencies throughout the state benefiting Special Olympics Washington. find out more at http://bit.ly/1gcFEMm
Leadership Fair: Monday, February 17th, 10:30 am – 1:30 pm, HUB Lied Square
Service-Learning Fair: Wednesday, Feb. 19th 11am-1pm HUB MPR Come meet community partners and find a place to serve in the Spokane community! Enter to win a $50 gift card simply by talking to 4 partners.
Forecast for Thurs. 13th - Thurs. 20th.
Old saying of the week:
"Two men looked out through prison bars, one saw mud, the other stars."
Photo of the week:
National Geographic (http://on.natgeo.com/1b6t41R)
"Having gorged on salmon to lay on fat for hibernation, a grizzly wears a coat of ice in Canada's Yokon."
Video of the Week:
Phil Moore, Off-Campus Senator
Office: 509.777.4285 Email: email@example.com