Lackluster enrollment numbers forces administrative cuts

UW Tacoma is facing budget cuts and reductions to administrative staff after revenue taken in by the university has left little-to-no room for growth. In all, 15 staff positions across the different administrative divisions are being reduced, laid off or not being refilled. No student-staff jobs were cut or reduced through this process.

From these cuts, the university will have $1 million of leeway to work with to expand certain programs and promote campus growth. The proposed budget for administration units next year now sits at $25,392,403 ? an overall reduction of 3.6%. Each administrative unit was tasked with offering cuts at 1.5%, 3.5% and 4.5%, which then guided the budgeting process on where money could be allocated and redistributed.

The university became aware of a budget shortfall in March when student enrollment and retention was not fulfilling expected projections. UWT’s budget is built around having a certain number of students to fill in seats. When that number is not met, the university faces a deficit in revenue.

“The way I look at it … I think it’s a little bit of a renewal for us,” UWT Chancellor Mark Pagano said. “It puts everyone on notice that we do have limited resources.”

According to Pagano, students’ tuitions comprise about two-thirds of the revenue generated for the university, with the other one-third coming from state funding. Pagano stated that this will not be the only time the university will do budget evaluations like this, saying that next year the different academic units will have to undergo a similar process of proposing different percentage cuts from their departments.

“We are going to do a similar exercise next year with this, because all this does is get us $1 million of wiggle room for this year, and we need a little more than that,” Pagano said. “So we will take these areas [the academic units] next year and do something similar, and that will give us maybe $2 million of wiggle room next year.”

In addressing the budget shortfall in her department, Mentha Hynes-Wilson, vice-chancellor for Student Affairs and Enrollment services, explained that her approach to the reductions included looking at which positions were necessary and which could be done without. While most were needed, some positions were ultimately chosen due to how they fell outside of meeting the three goals of enrollment, transitions and success.

“It became a business decision,” Hynes-Wilson said.

Student Affairs — which encompasses departments like Student Engagement, Student Success and Enrollment Services — is one of the divisions facing cuts and reductions. The position of Dean of Student Engagement is being cut, while the Civic Engagement Specialist job — who works closely with the Center for Service and Leadership — is having their position reduced. Finally, an Admissions Advisor is not having their position filled once they leave from their spot. From these reductions, some current jobs will find themselves with new responsibilities to fill the gaps.

Hynes-Wilson recognizes that there might be anger and sadness at losing members of the campus community, but asks that everyone supports each other as best as they can, such as creating spaces to come together to talk and heal going forward.

“I want us to recognize, honor and support those individuals who are no longer going to be members of our community, for no fault of their own,” Hynes-Wilson said. “I want students to know that there continues to be tremendous support within this division, across the campus, that is intended to encourage your growth and development. Your voices matter and if there’s ever a concern regarding this process or anything in general, that’s what I’m here to do.”

Leticia Bennett

Leticia is the News Editor for The Ledger. She is a Senior majoring an Urban Studies and hopes to become an Urban Planner. She is interested in all things happening around campus and loves to learn new things and meet new people.