Following the first comprehensive budget review at Washington State University in almost a decade, the results show that lapse in time was obviously too long. And now the university has some major catching up to do.
WSU President Kirk Schulz announced recently in an email to the university that WSU is projected to have a $17 million deficit through next June. That is on top of the $13 million shortfall of the WSU Athletics Department made public earlier this year.
As such a large institution with funding coming and going from hundreds, if not thousands, of different sources, it would be understandable if a few dollars got overspent or miscalculated here and there.
But creeping up on $30 million is not a few extra dollars.
So how did this happen?
Schulz said none of the funding deficit is due to frivolous or reckless spending, but rather money invested in “research startup funds, new faculty hires, the creation of much needed academic infrastructure, the hiring of new faculty and staff members knowing the retirement of other faculty and staff was upcoming, and difficult-to-use financial management systems that inaccurately tracked department budgets.”
WSU also said each individual department the budget review showed to have overspent has already created recovery plans to replace that money. And Schulz isn’t letting any deficit go unpaid.
While it is good the departments responsible are stepping up to right any mishaps, the blame still largely falls on the university as a whole for not having a better grasp on its own finances.
There is no reason for such a long period of time go by without knowledge that the shortfall had reached such an astounding total. If WSU is going to teach its students to be responsible, what with paying hefty tuition bills, passing exams and managing an often hectic schedule, the least they could do is give them a leader in that challenge.
WSU certainly should not wait another decade to check into its financial state again. Really, just because it’s in Whitman County, it shouldn’t be as mystified about its money as that county government usually is.