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Fiscal Health | Washington State University

College of Pharmacy response


This note is a follow-up to the communication from President Schulz on Monday regarding the university’s budget strategy. As the president indicated, each area of the university must contribute to reducing by $10 million aggregate deficit spending during the current fiscal year. Based on university-wide revenue projections, this deficit-reduction target translates into a two and one-half percent reduction in spending.

What does this mean for the College of Pharmacy? As you no doubt recall, the growth strategy that we developed and implemented several years ago included a second wave of faculty recruitment, largely to support expanding the college’s research portfolio and graduate/post-graduate education programming, beginning in the fall of 2017. This phase was planned to extend over the next two years as we realize the full benefit of a larger tuition flow. That plan has been put on hold so that we can contribute our share to solving the communal problem faced by the university. At present, hiring will be limited to those positions directly related to protecting our accreditation and ensuring that we can provide requisite services and support to students and faculty. Prior to requesting approval from the provost to fill a specific staff or faculty position, I will continue to request an analysis of the duties and responsibilities of the position together with an organizational analysis of what options, if any, exist for addressing those responsibilities in another manner. These are relatively standard operating principles, and are of special importance given the current budget pressure.

Because salaries account for most of our budget, there are limited opportunities to reduce expenditures outside of payroll reduction. Where possible and appropriate, we will shift expenditures associated with faculty or student enrichment to development funds. We will continue to emphasize recovering fractional salaries, consistent with fractional effort, on extramural awards so that we can meet our obligations to the graduate program. We will look for operational efficiencies, including cross-training within and between units, to build redundancy in knowledge and capability among the staff without expanding the size of the staff. I do not anticipate the need for layoffs; instead, we will be very deliberate in filling positions that we have available.

It is important to emphasize that we are facing a reduced spending authority as opposed to a budget reduction. The difference is extremely important. We are not transferring funds back to the central budget for spending elsewhere in the university. Instead, we are saving the funds we do not spend. This will place our college in a very strong position to embark on our second growth phase once we, as a university, have balanced our accounts. Although the delay is frustrating, it is simply a delay in, and not an elimination of, the college’s growth. If I have learned anything in my several decades working in the academy, it is the importance of taking the long view. Short-term frustration almost invariably becomes long-term opportunity. We can look forward to and plan for a robust future while we manage under relatively short-term constraints.

The college and the university will emerge from these spending constraints in good shape. The university’s leadership has developed a sound plan to achieve budgetary balance. The college’s financial health is good, and will be even stronger once we stop applying the brakes and can again step on the gas. In short, we will be just fine.

As always, if you have any questions regarding budget issues related to the College of Pharmacy please feel free to ask your department chair, Sarah Kohler, or me. We will continue to communicate regularly on the state of the budget. None of us want budget issues to become a distraction from the excellent work done by the faculty and staff.


Gary M. Pollack, PhD
Professor and Dean
Washington State University College of Pharmacy
PO Box 1495 * Spokane WA 99210-1495
Pharmacy Web Site