Report finds University must cut staff, consolidate programs to avoid $10 million deficit

By Albert Chang-Yoo

  On Sept. 26, 2022 the Comprehensive Academic, Administrative and Auxiliary Program Review (AAAPR) submitted a lengthy list of recommendations to combat the University’s financial woes. The review found that in order to avoid an expected $10 million deficit by 2025, the University must make significant changes, including faculty downsizing and program consolidation. President Crawford will submit a preliminary report to the Board of Trustees today and final recommendations will be voted on in February.

  The Comprehensive Academic, Administrative, & Auxiliary Program Review was created by the University of Puget Sound to evaluate the financial sustainability of all academic departments and non-academic centers. The Board of Trustees first approved the review in June 2021 and the Review took about a full year to submit a report. The 40 members on the Program Review Steering Committee represented faculty, staff, the Board of Trustees, students, and alumni. The University also hired Stevens Strategy, a higher education strategic consulting firm, to help with committee review.

  The full AAAPR report was released to the campus community Monday, Oct. 10th. After feedback submission closed on October 17, the report was made private to protect confidential information.

  In total, the campus community was given a week to review the 160-page report and submit their feedback. For the past decade, the University has faced declining enrollment and lower retention rates among its students. According to the AAAPR report, the University estimates a total undergraduate body of 1,682 students by 2025, a decline of about 1,000 students since 2015.

  The review report based its recommendations off a slightly larger number of 1,782 undergraduate students. The decline in enrollment has left the University searching for ways to resuscitate its finances. The report recommends reducing the number of undergraduate faculty by 18% or by 35 full-time positions by the fiscal year of 2025.

  The faculty cuts would ultimately save about $4 million. Additionally, the report calls for consolidation of the University’s academics rather than program elimination. The hope is to make departments more streamlined while preventing extra costs. 

  The AAAPR report called for the creation of a college of graduate studies, something that the University currently lacks. The college would lead to the creation of 1-2 new graduate programs. It also recommended the creation of a residential community for students of color, who generally have lower retention rates than white students. 

  The report touched almost every part of the University. It found that the Logger Store ran at a loss for the past six out of eight years and recommended either changing the store’s location or outsourcing. Faculty support for ASUPS is also lacking, having one full-time and one part-time employee. Although the athletics department recently received a $10 million donation, the report found that the University had the smallest budget out of all 9 Northwest Conference schools. Finally, the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity ranked lower than peer institutions in staffing and funding. 

  Ultimately, the actual decisions will be made after deliberations by the Board of Trustees. The board is faced with balancing lacking finances with investments into student programs. It is likely that when the Board decides in February, they will also be deciding on the future of the University itself. There is an open session Board of Trustees meeting today, Oct. 28, at 1:45 p.m. in the Tahoma Room.