Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Covering Dallas, Monmouth, Independence, Falls City and surrounding areas since 1868
September 18, 2012
MONMOUTH -- Western Oregon University has enough reserves to shore up a projected $1 million deficit in 2012-13 without any significant impacts.
It will take increased recruitment of international students -- who pay higher tuition than domestic students -- and more philanthropic efforts, however, to continue making up for decreased state funding, said WOU President Mark Weiss.
"We ... are now educating more Oregonians for the lowest proportionate investment by the state than ever before," Weiss told approximately 300 staff and faculty members during the annual "State of the University" address on Monday.
Perhaps $13.5 million of the school's general fund revenue this year will come from state appropriations; the total was $19.1 million five years ago.
"With the talent we have and the focused commitment of our faculty for student success, we will continue to shape our own destiny," Weiss continued.
Tuition prices are peaking in Oregon and students are leaving college with high debt loads -- at Western, it's $26,000 for the average senior.
"Student economics were so dire last year, it was necessary for WOU to write off an unplanned $600,000 of past-due student accounts," Weiss said.
Weiss said Western is the "most Oregon" of the state's public universities, with 85 percent of the student body coming from inside state lines.
Competition for international and out-of-state students is now fierce, with all colleges recognizing those higher-paying groups as a means to increase funding.
"It's imperative we maintain our international student numbers to provide additional diversity to our campus and to provide additional fiscal support to Western," Weiss said.
Weiss said philanthropy will be key in 2012-13, and noted that the university has come off "a banner year" in philanthropic efforts that yielded nearly $3 million in contributions.
"Alumni participation rates have increased by 20 percent this past year and faculty and staff giving levels have almost doubled in the past four years," Weiss said.
"Clearly, it's risky to rely on more from the state with unemployment high and not decreasing fast enough," he said.
There are other signs that bode well for Western. Weiss said the school will start the search process for 10 additional tenure track faculty this year. New academic programs include a visual communications degree, and chemistry and music minors.
"Ongoing this year will be discussion with faculty about an applied baccalaureate degree at Western, particularly in the areas of business management, finance, computer science, psychology and gerontology," Weiss said. This "will provide a path forward to a bachelor's degree for nontraditional students with significant work experience."
Crews have finished a number of improvements on campus, including a renovated Information Technology Center and a new recording studio, Weiss said.
"A news flash for next biennium: expect a new building to house our college of education, a building we can all be proud of," he said.