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UW's Phyllis Wise Says Funding Model Must Change

Amy Radil

The University of Washington (UW) may be able to soften the impact of proposed salary cuts and layoffs next year. But Interim President Phyllis Wise says officials will seek to increase tuition across the board for undergraduates, while studying other options.


The University of Washington's future funding strategies include gifts, grants and business spinoffs, not just tuition hikes. The university's Interim President Phyllis Wise says state support is steadily declining, so she is committed to seeking new kinds of funding. Currently, the university is awaiting the governor's signature on a bill that would allow it to set its own tuition for the next four years.

Wise spoke recently at a community conversation on the UW campus. A faculty member said she is "despondent" over the planned tuition increases. Wise responded that the university has no choice if it wants to maintain its programs.

Wise: "While I completely agree that it is a shame we have to privatize the financial model, I am – as a leader here, either as the provost before and where I will return, or as the president during this period of time – I am unwilling to stand here and wait for the state to find a way to fund us."

But layoffs and salary cuts for next year may be less severe than expected. The state budget calls for a 3 percent salary reduction, but Wise says she's negotiating to make those cuts elsewhere. And while the university had planned to lay off up to 1,500 people next year, she now expects fewer positions to be lost.

Meanwhile, Wise says the university will seek a tuition increase for undergraduates next year. She says any decisions about varying the tuition rate will need more research.

Wise: "In order to determine whether we want to do differential tuition either by freshman–sophomore vs. junior–senior, or by discipline, department by department or college by college, would require a lot more work than we've done so we would not want to do that prematurely."

Wise says as part of the tuition increase, the university will need to provide more financial aid as well. She says university officials also need to convince students that their voices will be heard in setting the new rates.

I'm Amy Radil, KUOW News.

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