Close to 400 positions impacted by budget cuts at EWU

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SPOKANE, Wash – What was already going to be a tough budget situation at Eastern Washington University was made even worse by COVID-19. Now, hundreds of EWU employees are being told to prepare for layoffs and work reductions.

EWU spokesman Dave Meany confirmed the information to 4 News Now Thursday afternoon.

Meany explained that EWU was already tightening its budget before the pandemic because of declining enrollment and other factors. In the fiscal year that ends later this month, EWU was cutting 3% from the budget. Another 3% cut was planned for next fiscal year, which starts July 1st.

Then, the pandemic hit.

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The State of Washington has told EWU and other state institutions to plan for what a 15% reduction would look like. For EWU, that amounts to $10 million. Add to that the loss of revenue EWU will face this fall with declining enrollment and fewer students on campus. EWU has lifted a live-in requirement for students and residence halls will be limited to single rooms. All of that means another $12 million in projected losses for the university.

EWU’s reductions will impact between 350 and 400 classified and exempt staff positions. That includes people like IT professionals, custodians, support staff and other jobs. Some will be laid off outright, others will see a reduction in term (from 12 months employment to 11, for example) and reduction in percentage of employment (from full-time to part-time, for example.) This also includes vacant positions that won’t be filled.

Those positions represent nearly a quarter of EWU’s total enrollment.

Those affected have been given an informal notice that this may be happening; formal notifications could come in the next couple of weeks.

These cuts do not affect faculty or academic programs. However, EWU President Mary Cullinan has informed the Board of Trustees that EWU could declare a severe financial emergency later this month. Meany says that impacts the collective bargaining agreement with the union that represents faculty and would allow cuts to be made to faculty and academic departments.

EWU is also looking at cuts to athletics. The athletic department has been asked to prepare for 23% cuts. The university is also hiring a consultant to do a full analysis of athletics.

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