Office of the President

February 24, 2009

President’s Town Hall – State of the UW budget


Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

All members of the University of Washington community are invited to join me on Tuesday, March 3, for a town hall meeting on the University’s current budget situation. This meeting is an opportunity to discuss where we are in the state budget process, the implications of pending budget cuts, and our priorities and strategies as we move into the next biennium.

The meeting begins at 3:30 p.m. and will include a question-and-answer session. For those of you unable to attend, the event will be streamed live on UWTV‘s Web site. You may also submit your questions here prior to the event.

When: Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Where: Kane Hall, Room 130
Time: 3:30 p.m.

I hope you will join me and participate in this important conversation.

Sincerely yours,


Mark A. Emmert

  • Owen Walton

    President Emmert:

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way, but I have a very straightforward question: As the leader of an educational institution facing severe economic challenges for the forseeable future, how can you explain the decision to hire a coach for $1.2 million in annual salary and at the same time ask students to pay more for their education?

    For more information on this issue, I invite you to consult the New York Times at this address:

  • Jessica Warmbo

    I am a Husky Promise student, and I am wondering how these budget cuts are going to play into the type of aid I will be offered next year.

  • Roger Roffman

    President Emmert –

    Do you anticipate cutting back or eliminating the 40% rehire for up to five years that is current policy for retired professors?


    Roger Roffman

  • Mark Ingman

    With budget shortfalls a lot of students are wondering why we don’t lower the temperature a few degrees or so. With the WA climate we end up bundling up to get to class, just to take it off with the temp inside at 68-70F. It is more of a hassel with little gain that could be put to better use.

    Mark Ingman

  • R Larkin

    Greetings Emmert,

    Given our budget crisis I hope the UW will consider King County’s administration and its strategies on dealing with the budget short falls. There is still a great deal of waste within some departments that should be charged to the units that effectively require these high cost expenses. What is the University doing to identify these expenses and either cut or bill for them accordingly?

    Secondly, are we considering furlough days?

  • Terry Hanlin

    Hello: I cannot attend the townhall meeting, but I have 2 concerns:
    1. In your previous message you mentioned having met with “vice-presidents” and “provosts” about budget issues. My question is Multi-layered: how many Vice Presidents and Provosts are there and do we really need them all; are they compensated? if so, how much and can they take a “hit” before we regular employees?
    2. Why would the UW be asking to remodel the stadium while at the same time asking the employees and other staff to worry about their jobs? I don’t think that a single-use, specalized, building should be remodeled during this time unless it is for some sort of earthquake proofing or other disaster prep. Why not table a remodel for now? That may not be popular, but, believe me, any layoffs or other staffing cut-backs will be way more unpopular.
    Thanks for considering my opinion.

  • Christina

    Budget cuts are a scary thing, I am concerned about how it might affect my Financial Aid status and the amount of aid I am awarded. How might aid funds be affected and what should be expected, in terms of eligibility and amounts awarded, during the process? Is tuition cost going to continue to increase?

  • Linda Fullerton

    Will funds from the Economic Stimulus Bill flow from the State or Federal treasury to the UW and help to mitigate the UW’s budget cuts?

    If yes, can you foresee what the priorities would be for the use of those funds?

  • Helen Powell

    Many of my staff received an email from SEIU 925 stating that “the (Washington) legistlature has made it clear that it will not fund our contract.” Many interpreted this to mean that their jobs would not be funded. Can you please explain the meaning of this statement and how this might impact union employees at the University of Washington? Thank you!


    I’d like to see more emphasis on the evening classes for alternative students (not just those pursuing a degree but also those who are in a cerificate program or just need a couple of classes to enhance aspects of their work skills). This would increase income to the university through additional tuition plus it would be a more efficient use of the campus buildings by using them in the evening as well as during the day.

  • Eric Beam

    Does the university have the option of employing furlough days for staff as a means of mitigating outright layoffs? If so, has this been considered? Thank you.

  • Adrienne Meyer

    I have heard a lot about layoffs as a definite, but I have not heard much talk of other potentially cost saving options. Is the University considering actions such as furloughs and 4-day work weeks? If not, why?

  • Steven Chong

    President Emmert:

    Is it really necessary to have police bicycle patrol on campus in broad daylight?! It just seems to be useless as we could use more patrols at night. Seeing a police officer ride his bike on campus, with really nothing to do, surely is a waste of our money.

  • Niklas Patrick Nordlof

    As a UW student and employee, I’m curious what your how much your current salary is; I noticed that you made $43,225 per month in 2007 (, and if this amount has increased, I would like you to justify why. I would ask this at the town hall meeting, but instead I will be working my $8.55 per hour job for UW Housing and Food Services.

  • Michael Dempsey

    I’m presenting a lengthy question to your blog:

    Dear Mark A. Emmert,

    Subject: Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive (VERI) program

    I sent this note to one of the sponsors of bill (HB 1599), WA Representative Scott White. Is this issue being considered for the near or distant future for UW employees? Here’s a copy for you to read:
    “Dear Scott,

    Is there any movement on your (VERI) bill HB 1599? A professor from U.W. e-mailed me the news article from The Herald (below).

    I found your bill: WA “HB 1599 – 2009-10” Providing retirement benefits at earlier ages in the plans 2 and 3 of the public employees’ retirement system, the teachers’ retirement system, and the school employees’ retirement system,”

    “Thursday, Feb. 12, 2009

    HIGHER ED: WSU regents approve retirement buyouts
    By Herald staff

    The Board of Regents of Washington State University unanimously approved a Voluntary Early Retirement Incentive (VERI) program at a special meeting held by teleconference Thursday. The program applies only to members of the WSU Retirement Plan which includes faculty and the majority of administrative professional employees. The program is designed to help the university cut its payroll in response to ongoing reductions in state allocations. President Elson S. Floyd said this is just one tool in an overall effort to address the impact of the proposed reduction in state allocations to WSU. WSU will also be proposing a bill to the legislature that would allow the university to offer the same kind of incentive to civil service and administrative professional employees who are members of a state or federal retirement system. In upcoming weeks, the university will hold forums and seminars to further explain the proposal and answer questions from employees who might be interested in taking advantage of it. Floyd and other WSU administrators developed the plan and shared an initial draft with the regents as a discussion item at the board’s meeting last month. The plan will be available to faculty and staff 55 years of age and older who have been members of the WSU Retirement Plan for at least 10 years. The university estimates that about 600 current employees will be eligible. WSU will make a one-time payment of $18,000 into a tax-exempt medical expense plan for an employee who retires under the plan. Employees may apply for the incentive no earlier than March 1 and no later than May 31. Retirement must be effective no later than July 1, the beginning of the new fiscal year. Those taking advantage of the plan would be prohibited from returning to employment with WSU within five years of retirement. Employees who retire could be eligible for temporary employment not to exceed 40 percent time, if such temporary employment is approved in advance by the provost and executive vice president.
    Provost and Executive Vice President Warwick Bayly said that provision could allow the university to retain faculty members, on a temporary, part-time basis, to teach necessary courses.'”

    Yours truly,

    Michael Dempsey

  • Exasperated Employee

    I will not be able to attend the town hall meeting but I really have been wrestling with this question.

    I hope you don’t take this the wrong way either, but I have a very straightforward question also: As the leader of an educational institution facing severe economic challenges for the forseeable future, how can you explain the decision to layoff employees when you are paid the exorbitant salary of over $40,000.00 a month and you are not willing to even take a pay cut yourself(or make other highly paid staff and faculty take a cut)?

    Greed of those few in power who have made, and are continuing to make, huge amounts of money off of the hard work of average people is the very reason the U.S. is in the financial mess it is currently in. The only ones who seem to be making sacrifices, and/or are suffering the consequences, are the same average people, not those who are paid as highly as yourself.

    Many of the average UW employees are willing to take pay cuts to avoid layoffs. Why wouldn’t you(and other highly paid staff and faculty) be willing to take a paycut to either avoid layoffs of UW employees or reduce the amount of layoffs?

    Please reconsider your position and lead with a compassionate heart and join your employees in the sacrifices we need to make to fix our economy. The failures we have seen in the business world this last year tell us one thing: we had many leaders that lost their heart and lost the compassion they should have had for others. Please don’t be that kind of selfish leader.

  • Jordan Kintner

    Dear President Emmert,
    When money is short, and the pressure on, the character and priorities of people come plainly to view don’t they? I know that this is a hard time for everyone and that sacrifices will need to be made, but how and where are those sacrifices determined? What is the breakdown on UW’s priorities financially? Who decides what money goes where and what factors go into those decisions?

  • Mark Igros

    Do you think there may be some value in working with the Student Government and Faculty to identify programs and services which we at UWT can do without or temporarily suspend in order to reduce the impact of a reduction in State funding? Perhaps a comprehensive survey can be developed and conducted to help identify certain services that are under utilized relative to others that we can cut. Perhaps we can redirect resources from these under utilized services to maintain or expand the availability of classes offered.

  • Devin Short

    You seem to be very concerned with assisting in economic stimulus by accelerating capital projects and building a new stadium and at the same time you’ve frozen new enrollment for Spring quarter. Why are the university’s resources being directed towards special projects and lobbying congress for a new stadium instead of towards educating more people?

  • Shannon Marsh

    President Emmert,

    Could you address how you forsee budget cuts affecting RA/TA positions? For many graduate students like myself, these positions are crucial to our ability to obtain an advanced degree while providing value to the university at a low cost. These positions are also vital for students in public service who don’t anticipate high-paying jobs after graduation to pay down loans. Thank you for your consideration.

    Shannon Marsh
    Evans School of Public Affairs

  • Joe Davenport

    As a union activist I am deeply concerned that you appear to have chosen not to involve the unions/line staff early in the process. We have already had to educate the Office of Labor Relations to the fact that 60 day notice of potential layoffs is not them being nice. but rather compliance with federal law. In fact I am still stunned that we continue to retain on payroll a labor relations staffer who did not know what the Fair Labor Standards Act was at the start of negotiations with AFSCME 1488-oh for my union sibling in SEIU it means the raises covered by state money are not there-those to be paid by UW as a result of side letters are probably heading for an Unfair Labor Practice Hearing before Public Employee Relations Commission (I know 1488’s market adjustments and shift differential have been sent. Not bad for a food service worker,

  • Susan Mello

    Do we know whether the aid to Washington State in the Stimulus package will mitigate the cuts to the University?

  • Nick Brownlee

    President Emmert,

    Recently, the Commissioner of the NFL and the CEO of Ford Motors announced they would take a 20% and 30% paycut, respectively. Would you or have you considered speaking with the UW Board of Regents to discuss taking a similar cut to your salary? Given the uncertainty felt by almost all UW employees nowadays, I feel this would send a strong statement of your commitment to and solidarity with the rest of the UW community. I hope you hear this as an invitation to stand with us in these difficult times. This is not an idle exercise, but a chance to exhibit sacrificial leadership.

    Nick Brownlee
    Department of Economics

  • Jon Marmor

    President Emmert,

    I was curious to see the announcement of the opening of a second European campus in Leon, Spain at the same time that many UW employees are faced with the prospect of losing their jobs. It seems incongruous during these times of extreme economic uncertainty. Can you explain why the UW needs this second European campus now?

    Jon Marmor
    UW Alumni Association

  • Joel Ray

    Dear President Emmert,
    We all share the global UW mission to some degree, the members of the two University Medical Centers certainly feel we provide an important component of this mission. It comes with “our” territory that we don’t lead the community in setting pay wages, and have settled with the “mean” of community standard for years. Certainly the autonomy and responsibility we’re afforded in the work place adds tremendous “personal” value to the job. When the University chose not to honor the agreed upon market adjustments that were collectively bargained it was dissapointing. More regrettable was the way we were notified, by having it not show up on our paychecks!!! Prior notice should have been given. We should have been engaged by the University to discuss alternatives to the agreement if your administraton deemed our market adjustments financially detrimental. I’m not going to fool myself that the UW mission applies to pay, nor compare what you make in comparison with other University Presidents. I would hope that the UW mission includes respectful and honest communication, and not getting stuff rammed down our throats.

  • Nicole Blair, Ph.D.

    Dear President Emmert: I am a full time lecturer at the University of Washington, Tacoma, where I teach freshman and sophmore writing courses. Because we are trying to establish our four year program, laying off full time lecturers, like me, at this time is not in our best interest. We would like to see our enrollment continue to increase at this critical time in our growth. I don’t understand why our university can afford to hire a football coach for 1.2 million dollars, while untenured faculty and many staff members are faced with losing our jobs next year. Perhaps you could explain the difference between funding for academic programs and sports programs, both of which, of course, add to the credibility and recognition of our university as a top-flight institution. However, although sports receives national recognition, without the high standards of our academic programs, there would be no sports programs at all. I think we need to reconsider our priorities as an institution of higher learning. Sincerely, Nicole Blair

  • Jeremy B.

    The UW won’t consider furloughs because they don’t think they’ll be able to get the unions to agree to it.

    If that is indeed the case – My question is how did King County manage to do it?

  • Julie Nicoletta

    Dear President Emmert,

    I have heard much talk of the faculty having to give up their 2% annual merit raises for the next two fiscal years. If faculty go without raises for the next two years (effectively a pay cut), will administrators at the UW also give up pay increases for the same period?

    Alternatively, have you considered a temporary pay suspension for faculty now that would retroactively grant 2% raises plus interest when the UW returns to economic health, so that faculty do not take a permanent hit on salaries?


    Julie Nicoletta
    Professor, IAS Program
    UW Tacoma

  • Frank R..

    President Emmert,
    As multiple people have already mentioned on this page, the salary of our newly hired coach, as well as your personal salary are crucial issues that must be addressed in the town hall meeting. It is heart breaking as a student to imagine losing precious faculty members and allowing our University to lose the prestige it currently owns. However, it is outright ludicrous to pay a new coach, as well as yourself, a combined salary of over two million dollars. CEO’s across the country have been taking salary cuts to meet the new demands of the economic crisis, and these are companies in the private sector. As a president of a public institution, it is shameful to profit so much while the University community suffers the most. Speaking for myself and many others, if we have to suffer by losing faculty, you need to take a hit as well. After all, the faculty are the real heart of this University… not you. I mean no offense, but this is reality.

  • Lisa Close

    Can you please explain the reasoning behind laying people off rather than reducing benefits? I was thinking particularly of our tuition benefits, life insurance, 401K/PERS match, etc. I know that we want to make reductions that will be permanent savings, and I’m sure that people would rather have a job than a wonderful 401K match or tuition benefits, or even life insurance, all of which a lot of employers don’t even offer.

  • Brandyn Wilimovsky

    Dr. Emmert:

    I agree with many of the other posts here, to wit: why are we not more vigorously pursuing the notion of furloughs, and if furloughs are not viable, what about moving ALL faculty and staff to shorter-term appointments ? Why are only some faculty and staff being asked (read forced) to make a sacrifice? Everyone is going to suffer with these budget cuts, everyone. Why cannot this burden be borne more equitably?

    Thank you for addressing these issues honestly.

    Brandy Wilimovsky
    UW Medicine Advancement

  • Mark R.

    Dr. Emmert,

    I would think that a 5% pay reduction across the board to help minimize layaoffs and keep more staff/faculty in their jobs would be a reasonable option to consider. A mechanism for restoring pay rates after some level of economic recovery is attained would make this idea relatively palatable. Keeping people working would go a long way to helping morale and having individuals and families able to continue, more secure in their situation.

  • Matt Reed

    Dear President Emmert,

    Why should students pay more for attending the UW as they receive less services and a lower quality of instruction? Why should students be forced to pay for the mistakes of the administration and the inefficiencies of the UW. Students must be directly involved and directly participate in any UW budget negotiations. My concerns (as with many other students) have most certainly not been addressed by your staff.

  • Greg Sheridan

    Why doesn’t UW offer to pay medicial benefits for early retirees until they reach 65 and are eligible for medicare. To be eligible the employee would need to have a combination of 20 years of service and be 55 or older?

    This small capital outlay may save significant salary savings and be a positive during this dire time.

  • Marilyn Gray

    At what point or under what circumstances would you consider following the provisions of the University Handbook to call a financial emergency? What are the ramifications of such a declaration, both positive and negative (e.g., would it make it easier to have furlough days; would it affect our bond rating)?

  • concerned UW employee

    President Emmert.
    You should take a huge cut in pay. I work for the UW and don’t even earn in over 2 years of service what you “earn” in one month. I won’t listen to you until you bring yourself down to OUR level. You could save about 15 people’s jobs with your outrageous salary – I’m sorry but no one deserves to make that much, not even you. and i concur that we don’t need all these provosts and yes, why can’t we have a furlough?

  • Holly Siegrist

    Dear President Emmert,

    How do the plans for the Restore the Core Project stand? I know that Miller and Anderson Hall are next in line to be renovated, and the last I heard was that it was uncertain whether we would get funding for the Restore the Core Project. Anderson Hall is completely inaccessible to wheelchair users and the only real solution would be for the whole building to be renovated (and the Restore the Core renovation plan is a very good one). I realize that the entire set of Restore the Core Projects should be approved as planned, since for the 2011 – 2013 biennium, to move the current Anderson Hall and Miller Hall occupants into Condon Hall during their respective building renovations, the Denny Hall, Balmer Hall, and Lewis Hall projects need to be completed so that those occupants can move out of Condon Hall to make room. Renovation is extremely important for the sake of safety, accessibility, modernity, and business. Thank you for all of your efforts.

    Holly Siegrist
    Director, ASUW Student Disability Commission

  • Gary C.

    Dear President Emmert,

    As a faculty member, I understand that this is a very difficult situation for all of us, and I am saddened by knowing that some state legislatures are unsympathetic to our situation and would like to force us to do more teaching and less research. UW faculties generated over 1 billion of external funding in a year and topped all US public schools, that is because of all our hard-working faculties who worked days and nights for the excellence in research. I would imagine an exodus of talents if we are forced to give up our research. Please tell the government that we have the ability to generate research funding and not to intervene our efforts in research. It will certainly be a tragedy for the university and the State of Washington if the excellence in research at UW is sacrificed.

  • Concerned faculty

    As a faculty member, I am concerned about the thoughts of a pay cut. Before faculty members are asked to forgo their pay, you need to talk about how we are going to shed some of the administration “fat” from the universities. This is the only University that I know of where we hire new administrators on a regular basis and promote people to administration positions. Faculty members are the heart of the university. Without good faculty, who if asked to take a pay cut may leave UW, you will have walls and an unhappy student population…You need to please consider a serious examination of the administration “fat” at the University.


    Could you address how you foresee budget cuts affecting the graduate and undergraduate evening degree programs and tuition? I would also like to know why, in these tough economic times, MSW students are been forced to pay for practicum hours. Can you please tell me where this money goes? I do not want to believe the rumors that it is going toward the unnecessary remodeling of Husky Stadium or to your salary (although that may not be a rumor seeing that you made $43,225 per month in 2007 Maybe you should lead by the School of Social Work’s mission statement; “We commit ourselves to promoting social and economic justice for poor and oppressed populations and enhancing the quality of life for all.”, and consider taking a pay cut so that the EDP program’s tuition does not require another increase. Or, better yet, please consider FREE or reduced practicum rates.

  • SEIU member supporting furloughs

    I am a union member working at the UW and I can say that there are a large number of us who whole-heartedly support the idea of furloughs vs. layoffs.

    Please, at least forward this idea to the union leadership as we are already demonstrating our support for this idea to them.

  • Gary C.

    I disagree with some comments that President Emmert should take a huge pay cut. Unlike some CEO for financial institutions who are mostly responsible for the trouble in their companies, I cannot agree President Emmert is solely responsible for the State budget cut. I think President Emmert had done a great job doing his tenure, and I strongly think that he should remain in office to lead the University during this troubled time. If the salary of the University President is cut severely, this will drive talent out and will cause us even more trouble.

  • Augustine McCaffery

    Dear President Emmert:

    Have Vice Provosts, Vice Presidents, and Deans been given any directive about the need to maintain a diverse workforce when considering reductions of faculty or staff positions? A concern is that budget cuts may have a disproportionate impact on people of color.

  • Ramona Hensrude

    Please work with the unions to avoid layoffs. I agree with other employees and faculty who want the UW to look at alternatives to layoffs. Can’t employees be allowed to work half-time to at least keep their medical insurance?

  • karen waddell

    Would you think about letting people work part time or maybe job share?

  • Dana Clark

    Is there a reason we can’t ALL take 5-10 (?) UNPAID days off per year to save our coworkers’ jobs? Some people would take it off like a vacation, and others could take it a day at a time to make less of an impact on an individual paycheck. Please don’t cut from the bottom (the lowest paid employees) – they are the most vulnerable & least likely to be able to survive on unemployment.

  • Ron Hahn

    Thanks for informing us. My questions:

    (1) Are the personnel cuts only going to affect staff, or are you going to spread the pain to contracted, non-tenured faculty as well? (Please be aware that many UW departments are severely understaffed already, which would make across-the-board cuts unfair.)

    (2) What about staff members that have a lot of seniority in terms of years (i.e. have demonstrated loyalty), and are nearing retirement age but are not quite there and, despite laws against discrimination, would not have a snowball’s chance in Hades getting other jobs. Are there going to be special considerations for those?

  • Patrick Pow

    I have gathered a group of colleagues on the Tacoma campus to watch the President Emmert’s address this afternoon. The streams were terrible and dropped many, many times. So most of the people left and went back to their offices. I imagine it would be worse when they all tried to connect from their own computers.

    In the past, you provide a videoconferencing signal (H.323) for the other campuses. Can you do that the next time? Actually, ISDN connection is preferred. IP conferencing could fact the same bandwidth issue.

    Or, we can participate at all. Thank you for your consideration.


  • richard Block

    From what I hear, there is no way we can no longer remain a tier-one institution, not even perhaps a tier-two. Do residents of the state recognize that they will no longer be able to send their children to an in-state university to receive first-rate training to compete in a global economy?

    Wouldn’t it be wiser to cut admissions and provide students with a good education than to grow and offer students a second-rate or even third-rate education?

  • Kathleen Burdo

    President Emmert,

    As many people have mentioned in these comments, the salary of both the newly hired coach as well as your salary are issues which you need to address at the town meeting. In order to retain credibility in speaking about the sacrifices that others (students and faculty/staff) must make, you must also commit to making a sacrifice as well as other highly paid positions–all of you can afford a paycut, while many professors cannot afford to be laid off and many students (especially us over here at UWT) cannot afford a rise in tuition.

    I agree with another comment made about how it is ludicrous to expect students to pay higher tuition for a lesser education and educational experience. Obviously you cannot maintain the quality of our institutions with these cuts, but raising tuition as well just doesn’t make sense. It seems like those extra dollars are going in the pockets of the new sports coach, upper administration, and yourself. Frankly, you’re asking students to subsidize your pay and the pay of other (ludicrously) highly paid individuals. Our professors and other people who work directly with the students are the most important people on campus, yet they are the first to go in a crisis.

    I also am concerned about our priorities. Why are we hiring sports staff and considering firing academic staff? Aren’t we an institution of higher learning, first and foremost?

    It’s important to point out that in many ways, these cuts will disproportionately affect the working poor and people of color–many of whom attend UWT as “nontraditional” and “commuter” students. What will be done to ensure that these does not happen, and that we remain committed to a “diverse” community–or more importantly, accessible education for all?

  • Maureen Fonken

    I am concerned about the various cuts being suggested as most of them seem that they may hurt the university’s mission and long-term goals. What I would like to see is a university-wide nomination process, a process where everyone in the university considers what they would cut, nominates it for cutting, and those who would be impacted by it attempt to defend it from the cut. This could all be online, organized by department, allowing for anyone to search and participate in nominations. Not only would this give feedback to the university about what the members of its’ community view as “waste” or “optional,” it also has the potential of having “all eyes” participate in the process, thereby increasing the likelihood that genuine and sensible cuts can be made. Once specific areas have been through the first round of nominations and defense, those that remain can be open to public comment and deliberation, resulting in an entirely open process that the community has all had an opportunity to participate in for the good of all.

  • UWB Student

    How much time has been spent going over the budget and cutting things out that are not necessary? Is the budget available for students to view?

    I really don’t understand how much tuition is going up, yet the education is going to go down. What the heck is our tuition paying for?

    I think the administrators need to take a serious look at wages, the budget, and whatever else to prevent staff from lay offs. Lay offs will not solve the problem, but will make the grand scheme problem much worse.