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Board notes: Approved budget, adjunct cuts, property liquidations

Referendum to be voted on: What you need to know about a possible new facility on campus/ WSU Student Union entrance. Photograph: Michael Krieger/The Guardian

WSU Student Union | Photo by Michael Krieger | The Wright State Guardian


Wright State University’s (WSU) Board of Trustees heard and approved the fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget for the university. Additionally, the trustees approved numerous resolutions and modified the proposed budget with two amendments.

University leadership also gave an update on FY 2020 finances, which are expected to fall just short of $1 million surplus.

FY 2021 budget overview

The approved FY 2021 budget is down in projected revenue of nearly $50 million due to an exacerbated downward enrollment trend and an approximate 20 percent reduction in state share of instruction (SSI).

The university’s finance team has reduced budgeted expenditures to nearly $243 million, down from $257 million in FY 2021.

With a roughly $50 million shortfall, the university expects to eat up part of its structural deficit with about $33 million in reserve funds.

As enrollment continues to decline, university leadership recognizes that it must correct both the institutional footprint and spending strategy to adapt to the new student body.

“We are projecting fall of 20 to be 10,721 students, which is a 22% decrease in headcount from where we were at this time fall of 19,” said Craig Woolley, chief information officer.

Three-year plan

In addition to the FY 2021 proposal, university leadership outlined a three-year plan with a goal to reduce the university’s footprint.

As revenues continue to drop, the university plans to slowly reduce its expenditures to nearly $201 million. A nearly $60 million reduction from FY 2020’s adopted budget.

Compensation, the largest budget line, at around 70 percent, will be reduced by almost $50 million by FY 2023.

On June 15, President Sue Edwards announced that 50 positions will be eliminated involuntarily. In addition, 35 faculty members took a voluntary retirement package.

WSU is also pursuing an academic unit restricting — reducing the number of colleges from seven to four and reducing the number of individual departments — creating new, larger academic structures.

Cuts to adjunct faculty and union talks

As an immediate cost-saving measure, the trustees proposed and passed an amendment cutting $5 million from the adjunct faculty budget, practically eliminating the majority of funding allocated to these positions.

WSU has 433 adjunct faculty, according to WSU’s website.

“I was very disappointed that the Wright State AAUP has continued to decline [to meet] formally or informally to discuss how the university can work together on these important issues, said chair Tom Gunlock. “As I told my son as he was growing up, folks can either be a part problem or part of the solution. There is no middle ground.”

WSU administration has successfully had mid-term talks with both the Teamsters Local 957 and the Fraternal Order of Police, but had no such luck with the AAUP-WSU.

Athletics update and liquidation of Double Bowler

In the past month, WSU effectively eliminated two sports and three teams, softball and men’s and women’s tennis. 

“[This] will ultimately save us $2 million a year on the athletics side,” said Greg Sample, executive vice president and chief operating officer, C.E.O. of Double Bowler Properties Corp.

The university is actively working on a couple different options right now to liquidate the Double Bowler initiative

The Double Bowler Properties Corp. has been subject to public scrutiny over the years. 

According to the Ohio Inspector General, Double Bowler was found to violate state law for improperly paying a former congressman for lobbying. Sample is the sole employee of Double Bowler.

“We are working through a dissolution of the Double Bowler initiative,” said Sample. “This will be the last year that a Wright State budget has any support for Double Bowler. We will be liquidating those investments.”

The goal is to get it done sooner rather than later in hopes of saving even more money, according to Sample.

The university is also working on space consolidation by executing a sale agreement on the building that WSU owns at research park, anticipated to close within the next 90 days, according to Sample. 

All of the programs currently housed at research park will begin moving back to Campus. In addition, The Boonshoft Emergency Medicine program at Kettering Medical Center and the academic operations currently taking place at the Duke Ellis center in downtown Dayton will also move back to campus. 

WSARC 

The Wright State Applied Research Corp. (WSARC) initiative was started many years ago around WSU’s research footprint.

“That has ebbed and flowed in terms of its relationship with Wright State. There have been periods of time where we have had to provide direct financial support to WSARC,” said Sample.

This affiliation will come to a conclusion in October of this calendar year. 

“We anticipate presenting a new relationship with WSARC that will have no direct financial support from the university nor will it have any of the indirect support that it currently has,” said Sample

Elimination of certain out-of-state tuition surcharges

The trustees also approved the elimination of the out-of-state tuition charge for certain WSU graduate students. 

The approved resolution reduces the original $465 charge per credit hour to $4.65 per credit hour — a 99 percent decrease. 

This resolution applies only to nonresident graduate students who earned their bachelor’s degree in Ohio and is still waiting on approval by the chancellor of the Ohio Department of Higher Education.  

This reduction includes all WSU degree programs excluding medical degrees and the school of professional psychology degrees.