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Provost, Discusses UW Efforts to Deal With Cuts

“The second step, still under discussion, is creating a series of faculty-designed “modular”
concentrations that might replace traditional undergraduate departmental
majors while engaging students in the great breadth and depth of the course
offerings of the entire College of Arts and Sciences.  A student interested,
for example, in Humanities and the Environment might take nature-oriented
courses in a half dozen departments or more – gaining perspectives from
Germanics, English, French, Asian Languages and Literature, History, Art,
and Art History in addition to courses taken in other colleges.”

Ed. Sounds like Evergreen?

Mary E. Lidstrom, Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

To the University Community:

Over the past two months, I have held budget discussions with all of the
UW’s senior administrators – deans, chancellors, vice presidents, and vice
provosts, and today I am updating all of you on what we have been doing.
Together, we’ve reviewed a mountain of data on student credit hours,
degrees, quality, scholarship, research, diversity, collaborations and a
host of other important indicators of the UW’s many activities.  We have
talked at length about our mission, and have grappled with difficult
questions about how to cut spending while preserving the quality that is the
hallmark of this university.  You can read both the unit budget narratives
and the centrally provided metrics at the sites noted below this paragraph.

Unit budget narratives
http://www.washington.edu/admin/pb/home/bgt-narratives-fy2012.htm

Centrally provided metrics
http://www.washington.edu/admin/pb/home/uw-pem.htm

I have learned a great deal in this process. I’ve learned that senior UW
administrators are skillful advocates for their programs–but, more
importantly, that across all three of our campuses they care deeply about
the quality of the student experience at UW, about working conditions for
our staff, and about the quality of our faculty.  These budget discussions
have also reinforced what I already knew: these are difficult times for all
of us; the continuing uncertainty over our budget is often dispiriting.  But
I’ve also learned that administrators, faculty, students and staff are truly
dedicated to sustaining quality in our core mission of learning, discovery,
and public service.

I began the budget review process last autumn by seeking advice from many
across the three campuses – from students, deans, chancellors, faculty, and
staff.  Consistently, UW community members told me that we should, first,
avoid across-the-board cuts that result in mediocrity for all, second,
preserve the quality of outstanding programs, and third, cut – when
necessary – in strategic ways that would serve UW well in the future.
Through all of this came the advice that I should do all I can to maintain
and enhance the environment we have for learning, teaching, scholarship, and
research.  My budget priorities for the Seattle campus
(http://www.washington.edu/discover/leadership/provost/print/provost-budget-priorities-2011)
reflect this advice, and will guide me in the specific budget decisions I
will make jointly with university leadership in the next few months. I have
discussed these concepts with the two Chancellors, who are using similar
guidelines and are working to help their campuses meet their budget
challenges as strategically as possible.

What has impressed me most in the past few months has been the innovative
spirit that so many of you have demonstrated in the face of our budget woes.
One example comes from the College of Arts and Sciences, where the 14
Humanities Division departments are undertaking a sweeping reorganization of
administration and of majors.   The first step, already finalized, is the
sharing of core services (such as payroll and purchasing). Providing these
services under decreased support has created great strains for small units –
and taken time away from student advising and other faculty support.  The
shared services approach will help alleviate that issue. The second step,
still under discussion, is creating a series of faculty-designed “modular”
concentrations that might replace traditional undergraduate departmental
majors while engaging students in the great breadth and depth of the course
offerings of the entire College of Arts and Sciences.  A student interested,
for example, in Humanities and the Environment might take nature-oriented
courses in a half dozen departments or more – gaining perspectives from
Germanics, English, French, Asian Languages and Literature, History, Art,
and Art History in addition to courses taken in other colleges.  As
Humanities Divisional Dean Bob Stacey notes, the Humanities departments
recognize that they may be somewhat smaller in the future, but they will
continue to provide an excellent student experience.

This is just one of many stories about innovation and creativity at the
university I have heard during my budget discussions over the past two
months.  My thanks to all of you who–even in these challenging
times–continue to make this a great institution.

Sincerely,

Mary E. Lidstrom
Interim Provost and Executive Vice President

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact
provost@u.washington.edu


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