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Budget cuts at WSU mean the loss of faculty and programs around campus

Budget cuts at WSU mean the loss of...

PULLMAN, Wash. - Washington State University is taking big steps to solve its budget deficit, requiring each department on campus to make cuts.

The school is trying to make up a $30 million annual deficit. The school says these cuts mean faculty members will lose their jobs and some programs will have to be eliminated.

"We're doing this in a very deliberate way," said Phil Weiler, WSU's vice president of marketing and communications. "Rather than waiting a couple years and say we're looking toward the edge of the cliff, we're turning around before we get to that cliff."

WSU says the deficit is a result of spending over the last four years. The school has been spending more than it is bringing in. It has tapped into reserve funds each year, but Weiler says it can't do that anymore.

The announcement about the cuts came Monday evening. That's when students involved in the performing arts program found out that program will not continue beyond this school year.

"I was mad, I was a little hurt..." said Aryn Allen, the performing arts theater president.

"At first I was like shocked," added Jared Braswell, a junior in the program. "I was like 'woah.' It came out of nowhere."

The program doesn't offer any majors, but is responsible for the productions that happen on WSU's stage. It also offers a handful of theater classes.

According to WSU, the performing arts program has used $1.6 million from reserve funds since the program began seven years ago.

The university has left it up to each department to figure out how to cut spending. Each department is tasked with reducing its budget by 2.5% for this fiscal year. They will have to do that every year until the deficit is eliminated and the school begins to replenish its reserve funds.

"The savings is across the board," Weiler said. "It's not individual units that are having to make up for other people."

WSU says many of the cuts will have to come from faculty.

"There will be individuals who lose their jobs, only because about 85% of our expenses go to personnel costs," Weiler said.

The cuts are taking some by surprise, but the school says its overspending has been intentional.

"Over the last four years, we've launched a new college of medicine, we've launched significant improvements to our athletics facilities, so that athletics over time can bring in more revenue through ticket sales," said Weiler.

The school knew it would have to make these kinds of cuts in order to get back in order financially. However, some students feel like they're losing too much.

"It's clearly upsetting to us. It's going to hurt people lives, like, our advisers, they're not going to have jobs here anymore, they're not going to be here for us anymore," said Braswell.