Balanced budget finalized for upcoming year

The trustees reviewed and finalized several budget-related items during trustee week, including the summer improvement project for electrical and steam systems, the improvements of Graduate and Continuing Studies enrollment, as well as a reduction to the amount of money being fundraised for future renovations of the music building. Long-planned renovations and additions to the music building met a budget cut of more than 50 percent, with original estimations of $25 million to be fundraised for the project cut down to $12 million. Difficulties with raising such a large amount of money led to cutting the plans from the fundraising budget.

“It became obvious that we were not able to raise $25 million, so it was reduced to $12 million,” said Gerry Gemmill, vice president of finance and administration. “We could have waited X amount of years to reach the $25 million, but $12 million is a lot of money and it is going to do a lot for the music department, and the students will get it a lot sooner.” The original $25 million plan included a 700-seat recital hall.  A recital hall of the size planned had an expensive per-square-foot cost, and even with some generous donations already given, the recital hall is no longer feasible, Gemmill said.

The renovation and expansion of the music building is the biggest capital project in the near future for Whitworth and is one of the biggest donation-funded capital projects at the school. Current plans for the music building include updating acoustic panels, painting the building, making lighting improvements and increasing the number of classrooms and practice rooms.

“They’re trying to determine the greatest needs of the music department and prioritizing them, and then we’ll design it,” Gemmill said.

Fundraising for the project is ongoing while a committee decides on improvements and expansion.

“It’s such a huge part of the Whitworth experience— so many students are a part of the music program and we want to provide for them,” Gemmill said.

In other news, students in the Graduate and Continuing Studies programs have also received a boost. An increase in enrollment in the program was announced during trustee week.

“We have been very intentional about recruitment strategies for all our graduate and teaching education programs this year,” said Barbara Sanders, Dean of the School of Education.

Forty incoming students for the fall semester have been confirmed. About 10 more students are anticipated to join the school later this spring, Sanders said.

Faculty in Graduate and Continuing Studies enrollment management and marketing have been working closely with the school to increase enrollment, Sanders said.

The Whitworth graduate and master in teaching program was able to take advantage of the expanding demand for teachers in the Northwest and Spokane, which  helped fuel the demand for graduate teaching programs in the area, Sanders said.

“People are hearing that there are great jobs available when they finish any of our teacher education programs,” Sanders said. “Many Whitworth students apply to the program, getting their content preparation as undergraduates and their master’s and teacher certification in the 13-month MIT program.”

While other progress has been made with budgeting, other pieces of the budget are continuously updated. The Health Center and the Costa Rica Center are still awaiting confirmation on what cuts and restructuring will be implemented.

“No new decisions have been made since the formation of the task force for the Costa Rica Center,” Executive Assistant of Academic Affairs Gretchen Cleveland said. “We are waiting for the task force to do their work at this time and know they are making good progress.”