EWU 2019 – 21 State Operating Budget Legislative Priorities
In 2017 the legislature passed a biennial budget (2017-19) that changed the compensation funding policy for higher education employees statewide.
Historically, compensation increases for employees of higher education were treated the same as all other state employees—salary and benefit increases approved by OFM were fully paid for by the state.
New compensation policy originating in the governor’s budget proposal, and ultimately adopted by the legislature, requires approximately half of the approved compensation increases now be paid for by the institution.
Eastern Washington University is requesting a commitment from the legislature in the 2019-21 biennium to fully fund compensation increases. Restoring pre-2017 compensation policy will create a pool of salary and benefit funds to address faculty, classified, exempt, and graduate student assistant recruitment and retention issues for FY20 and FY21.
MAINTENANCE & OPERATIONS
Reductions in state funding since 2008 have significantly limited the available resources for Eastern’s maintenance and operations (M&O). In accordance with the university strategic plan, scarce state funds have been allocated to the core instructional mission. Staff reductions within the facilities departments make it difficult to accomplish tasks and have created delays. Additionally, salary, benefit, and operational costs continue to increase, which influences the university’s ability to provide quality care to state buildings.
Eastern Washington University’s funding request package will: 1) work to restore M&O to 2008 levels; 2) increase M&O levels to address the increase in campus square footage over the last 10 years; 3) increase operation levels to address the cost of goods sold for M&O; 4) provide increased funding for currently non-funded M&O mandates; 5) incorporate green building practices.
INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY MAINTENANCE
Information Technology at Eastern is at an inflection point. After years of investments in on-premises systems and hardware, EWU is transitioning to the cloud. Despite the recent investments, there is minimal disaster recovery and the university’s infrastructure is rapidly aging. Already, EWU has engaged with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to train all IT staff in developing and architecting solutions on AWS, but the university lacks the sufficient capital to make the additional IT investments required to make the migration without further degradation in services to the campus community.
The intent and purpose of the IT Maintenance funding request is to improve the overall health of EWU IT infrastructure, mitigate risks, and allow the institution to more quickly adopt new technologies. As part of the cloud migration planning, EWU is ensuring that the IT solutions have business continuity contingencies built-in.
Student Success Initiatives
EAGLE CARE NETWORK
Student success initiatives are at the forefront of EWU’s efforts to partner with students to achieve degree completion. Eastern’s advising initiative (2016) has resulted in a 47% increase in the total number of students served and reduced advising wait times from an average of 2-hours to 18-minutes.
Although Eastern has excellent student support services, they are not linked by a common data network. The creation and implementation of the of the Eagle Care Network will maximize the connectivity of student support programs by linking offices in a virtual network.
The Eagle Care Network has three underlying strategies: 1) Using a data driven risk model or through observations, students facing difficulties are identified, and their cases are assessed and entered into a software-supported workflow for referral to student success resources. 2) Advisors and case managers are appropriately informed of the relevant concerns and students’ up-to-date case history is available. 3) The network establishes a vehicle for data-informed resolutions and predictive analytics to identify and resolve retention and graduation obstacles.
Eastern is requesting funding to add 18 FTE: four multicultural specialists, 10 student peer coaches, one graduation specialist, one student ombudsperson, one case manager and one EAB campaign manager for the implementation and administration of the network.
STUDENT SUCCESS INITIATIVE
Student success is at the core of Eastern Washington University’s mission. In addition to the Eagle Care Network, Eastern will increase the resources for STEM advising and tutoring.
EWU is requesting the creation of a Math Resource Center, development of a powerful math and science tutoring system, an increase of science and math supplemental instruction, redesign of existing courses, addition of online modules to assist students along with an increased number of lower-division math and science courses and sections offered each term.
The current teacher shortage in Washington State is well documented. Certifications in special education, bilingual, ESL, and math are high-need areas. Furthermore, small, rural districts are especially challenged in finding new school professionals. By adopting a “grow your own” approach, districts will be able to identify candidates who already live in the region and plan to stay.
Eastern Washington University seeks funding to create a network of resources to support rural school districts in 1) identifying, educating, and certifying new teachers, counselors, and psychologists for their school districts; 2) post baccalaureate education leading to certifications and graduate degrees; and 3) provide professional development customized to individual district needs.
Eastern anticipates 4.5 FTE, including two tenure-track faculty members, two success coaches and one director.
Multiple companies located in Eastern Washington with expertise in Smart Grid, advanced cyber secure networking, business-to-business/consumer Internet of Things (IoT), and semi-autonomous spacecraft, have requested that EWU expand its curriculum to help meet their demand for graduates trained in these new technologies. Many companies regularly hire EWU’s top Computer Science (CS) and Electrical Engineering graduates, then spend time and money training them to be Computer Engineers (CpE). Student demand for a CpE degree is high and it is estimated that CpE and CS careers will experience 17% national growth.
EWU has requested state funding to create a new degree option for the College of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Eastern anticipates 7.75 FTE, including four tenure track faculty members, two lecturers, one technician, one administrative assistant, and five graduate assistants are needed for the CpE program.
The 2013 Report Card for Washington’s Infrastructure prepared by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) identified specific concerns about the state’s drinking water, bridges, rail system, roads, and transit. The Washington Department of Employment Security projects that demand for civil engineers will grow annually at a rate of 1.1% from 2015-2025, totaling approximately 3,223 job openings. At present, the only Civil Engineering (CE) degrees offered by Washington public universities are at University of Washington and Washington State University. The state will not be able to meet the growing demand for engineers in this discipline without diversifying program options and additional investment in new programs.
EWU’s proposed CE degree will be an interdisciplinary program with five subdisciplines that specifically address the concerns identified in the 2013 ASCE Report Card for Washington’s Infrastructure. The program will include: geotechnical engineering, structural/construction engineering, water resource engineering, transportation engineering, and environmental engineering.