13 November 2010

Sources of Information about the Budget

It is difficult to find all the information one might want about the WSU budget, but here are three sources of information provided by the university:

Lynn Gordon


  1. Thanks Lynn. The budget categories don't make it easy to answer many of my questions, but it is a start. For example, look at the table below from the 2009 financial statement:

    Plant Op. & Maint.__42
    financial aid_______40

    We spent more money on academic support, institutional support, public services, student services and "other" than on either instruction or research. That is a lot of support and service for an institution focused on teaching and research.

  2. Actually it's even more interesting: Check out https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.budget.wsu.edu/budget/docs/Allocations09.pdf

    There you will notice that the Provost's Office counts as an "Academic Area", not an "Administrative Area". Really?

    Even more interesting--as more administrative responsibility moves down to the department level, it is clear that the "Academic Area" expenditures all include substantial administrative responsibility. So how can we honestly compare the expenditures for academic and administrative functions?

    Take a look at the "WSU Expenditures by State Program" linked at http://ir.wsu.edu/Financial; it reports (in $1000s) for FY 2009:

    Instruction 202,232
    Research 40,702
    Sponsored Research 137,583
    Libraries 14,869
    Public Service 41,085
    Primary Support 51,341
    Student Services 21,217
    Institutional Support 49,714
    Plant O&M 49,485

    I reordered the numbers to put core university functions together (teaching, research and service).

    Now some of these are transparent and even if non-academic, necessary--Plant operations and management clearly cannot be done with out. Others are a little more opaque. What is "Primary Support"? We spent $51M on it.

    It's also clear that the numbers in the financial statement and those in the expenditure report do not line up completely.

    Okay, again I make a plea: Where are the faculty finance/accounting people?

  3. From the 2004-09 financial statements, I extracted
    a) Instruction
    b) Research
    c) Total, less depreciation (really a capital expense), Fac. ops (need to heat and maintain buildings), financial aid (effectively a deduction from tuition received), and auxiliary programs (most of these pay for themselves or generate a profit, e.g. dorms)

    On average (there was little variability) as a fraction of the subtotal:
    Instruction = 34%
    Research = 29%
    Other = ~37%

    So AFTER the physical infrastructure is paid for, WSU still spends more on student services, academic support, institutional support, public services and "other" combined than is spent on instruction or research! And yet I have to reconcile my own credit card transactions because we have so few support staff left at the department level.

    Perhaps Drs. Floyd and Bayly are correct about the need for vertical cuts. The obvious place to start would be in areas that are not directly related to instruction or research.

    Obviously we need student services, staff to pay invoices, etc... but 37% of the non-physical, "effective" operating budget seems unreasonable. I'd love to get this data going back for decades to see how the present balance compares to pre-corporatization allocations.

  4. I agree--long term data would be nice; budget data going back at least as far as the other "historical" data would be nice.

    According to the data linked to http://ir.wsu.edu/Employee%20Datak since 1988 our FTEs have been divided pretty steadily slightly over 1/3 faculty (34-35%), 11-12% graduate assistants,53-54% A/P and classified staff. We can argue about whether that balance is right, but it has been consistent. What has changed is that in 1988 85% of our faculty was tenured or tenure-track; in 2009 63% of our faculty was tenured or tenure-track.

    Perhaps as interesting question would be not how the FTEs have been split, but how the money has been split. Particularly how much money goes to the top administrators compared to the top faculty salaries?

    Questions, questions, many questions.

  5. I just noticed the google document posted previously.
    for FY09:
    $165 million for academic programs
    $117 million for non-academic expenditures, which for some reason they call administration, as if custodians and payroll clerks are administrators.

    All of the academic administrators (Deans, associate deans, directors, Provost, vice-provosts, etc...) are considered academics. And yet the director of the graduate school is considered "administrative" rather than "academic" and reports to Floyd rather than the provost?

    Our administrators want to make it difficult to find out how much is spent on administration.

  6. Administrative salaries (something faculty love to talk about)

    A comparison of the WSU presidential compensation with our aspirational peers ($1000s)
    $625 Washington State University
    $620 University of Illinois at U-C
    $529 Purdue University
    $425 Texas A&M University
    $423 Iowa State University

    With the state of Illinois also in the midst of a fiscal crisis, there was broad outrage when President Hogan was hired this year at $620k/year (40% over the previous president). For comparison the University of Illinois system has an enrollment over 70,000 and an annual budget over $4 billion. The flagship campus is ranked No. 25 according to the Academic Ranking of World Universities. WSU falls outside the top 200. And yet our President makes more than the presidents for ALL of our aspirational peers, even after giving back $100k.

    Is Elson Floyd worth his compensation (which also includes two houses, two cars and $500k in deferred compensation)?

    State legislative victories? It is hard to see how Floyd did any better than anyone else would have done. Obviously, it would have been difficult for anyone to succeed in the current economic and political environment, but cuts in state support have been proportionally the largest in history.

    Foundation contributions?
    --> From FY2005 to 2009 ($ millions)
    ___38, 43, 48, 48, 41
    Given that 2007 was already baked in the cake when Floyd took over, it is hard to discern any major improvement.

    Net foundation asset gains/losses?
    --> From FY2005 to 2009 ($ millions)
    ___22, 35, 59, 3, -55
    Again the best year was in FY07, when Floyd took over in late May. Floyd's two years have been a disaster from an investment perspective. Of course, most universities lost money with the stock market crash. We appeared to do no better or worse than anyone else... pretty much following the herd right over the cliff.

    Undergraduate enrollment is up, but that is true for almost all public universities due to the recession.

    Rankings, no significant change.

    Grants & Contracts from FY2004-09 ($millions)
    130, 143, 114, 114, 146, 159
    Yes, G&C are up, but they were increasing before Floyd took over (our FY98-99 G&C average $82 million). These numbers are also quite variable, so we shouldn't put too much emphasis on a two year trend.

    Floyd hasn't been a terrible president, and in the big picture $625k isn't going to make or break our budget. Dr. Floyd appears to have a good relationship with students and from what I can discern is a truly nice guy. I suspect that it really does bother him personally to see people laid off. I also like Floyd's emphasis on the land grant mission, a focus that allows us complement rather than compete with UW. But there is something of a disconnect between Dr. Floyd's superstar salary and his performance to date.

    Given how well Dr. Floyd is paid and given his new contract extension (which includes another lump of deferred compensation in 5 years), he might be leading this university for longer than many originally anticipated. This is all the more reason for the AAUP to help faculty gain a stronger voice in shared governance.

  7. To continue the previous post, I also took a look at administrative salaries for FY09 by $25k increment (most recent available from Olympia, athletics NOT included, benefits NOT included, in $1000s):

    600+ 1
    300-325 2
    275-300 1
    250-275 4
    225-250 6
    200-225 12
    175-200 18
    150-175 16
    125-150 21
    100-125 72

    For perspective, 27 WSU administrators earned over $200k and 50 earned more than Governor Gregoire's $166k salary in FY09. Number 50, Dr. Kimberlee Kidwell, was an associate dean for instruction. I don't mean to pick on one individual, but is any associate dean for instruction more valuable than the Governor?

    And we should keep in mind when comparing to the private sector that faculty are also managers. In the sciences, faculty are responsible for managing large budgets and a number of employees. Even in the social sciences and humanities, faculty have almost complete responsibility for managing their classes and research programs.


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