Senate communications

April 12, 2018

Report of the Senate Committee on Planning and Budgeting

Zoe Barsness, Associate Professor, Milgard School of Business, UW Tacoma

The Senate Committee on Planning and Budget meets weekly with the Provost, the Vice-Provost for Planning and Budget, and the head of the Board of Deans. SCPB is charged with consulting on all matters relating to the University budget and on a wide range of program and policy decisions.

In early-March, the SCPB wrapped up its review of the unit adjustment proposals. The UW Tacoma and all Seattle academic units, with the exception of Dentistry submitted a unit adjustment proposal. Dentistry intends to submit a proposal to SCPB for review in spring quarter to assure its access to the unit adjustment funds which the Provost has allocated to each of the schools and colleges on the basis of their full professor headcount. In all cases, the committee recommended approval of the proposed unit adjustment.

Each year, the SCPB receives an update on unit deficits. In those cases where a unit deficit is significant and/or cannot be resolved prior to the end of the fiscal year, biennium or grant/contract completion date, a Deficit Resolution Plan must be created and approved by the Provost. Information about the university’s Deficit Resolution Policy is available at the Office of Planning and Budgeting website. As part of the annual deficit update, the SCPB reviews the progress being made on units’ deficit mitigation and debt reduction efforts. We provide advice to the Provost as to the appropriateness of the proposed timeframe for deficit resolution established in the unit’s Deficit Resolution Plan and, after assessing the progress being made on reduction/elimination of the deficit and the unit’s associated outstanding debt, whether central support for the deficit should be sustained or phased out.

In March, the committee received a financial update on the School of Dentistry (SOD) deficit. For more detailed information on the Dentistry deficit and Dentistry Deficit Resolution plan, please see the SOD Financial Update to the Board of Regents. Our March SCPB discussion of the SOD fiscal situation focused on the scope of the Dentistry deficit, which is considerable. As of the end of fiscal year 2017, carried an accumulated debt of $36 million, which includes all funds, not just self-sustaining clinical funds. Its current annual deficit is $7 million. Since last spring, the central administration of the University has engaged in a financial oversight phase resulting in significant steps to stem losses within the School. As part of our SCPB review we explored details of the SOD deficit mitigation plan, including the timeframe for deficit reduction and retirement of Dentistry’s overall debt. Members of the committee expressed serious concerns in regards to the implications of the dentistry deficit and overall debt for the fiscal health of the larger institution. The SCPB will receive another update on the Dentistry deficit and progress on deficit mitigation at the end of spring quarter.

The SCPB will be continuing its review of unit deficits throughout the remainder of the spring quarter. Updates on our review of those deficits will be included in my spring quarter reports to the Senate Executive Committee and Senate. Of significant interest to faculty over the last several years has been the deficit in the Athletic Department. For information on the Athletic Department and deficit mitigation plans, please see the Annual Report of the Athletic Department to the Board of Regents. The SCPB will be receiving an update on the Athletic Department’s progress on its deficit mitigation plan and retirement of its overall debt in May. The SCPB last reviewed the Athletic Department’s progress on its Deficit Resolution Plan in May 2017. SCPB’s review at that time indicated that the Athletic Department had made significant progress in its deficit reduction efforts. The Senate also received a report student athlete development and academic performance, as well as a financial update, at the May 18, 2017 Senate meeting. For more details, please review the minutes of the May 18, 2017 Senate meeting. If you have specific questions regarding the Athletic Department’s fiscal situation and its progress on deficit mitigation and debt reduction please submit your questions to me as Chair of SCPB at: by the end of April.

In March, the committee also reviewed proposed Fee rate increases of 5 percent or greater. Most of the proposed fee increases that were reviewed are intended to compensate for increased program delivery costs. The committee considered the impact of the proposed fee increases on students and assessed their comparability to program fees at peer institutions. The committee approved all proposed fee increases intended to meet increasing program delivery costs that also maintained competitive pricing relative to peers and had support from relevant stakeholders in the proposing program.

At our last SCPB meeting, the committee received an overview of the FY19 Annual Review process and unit budget reports from the Office of Planning and Budgeting. These are the annual reports submitted to the Provost from each unit in consultation with unit elected faculty councils. More information about all units (academic and administrative) FY19 annual review submission is available at: For the first time, the Annual Review process includes a comprehensive, institution-wide, multi-year, multi-fund forecast at the unit level. Over the course of the next month, the SCPB will leverage its review of the Annual unit budget plans along with summaries of these multi-year fiscal forecasts to:

  1. Examine those units in trouble or trending toward concern in order to identify the broader strategic and institutional fiscal concerns that might be revealed;
  2. Explore where and how strong, moderately and weak performing units line up with broader institutional priorities such as large scale, institution-wide initiatives (e.g. population health, race & equity);
  3. Focus on determining if there are any emergent opportunities or challenges that are shared across units or demonstrated by units focused on different aspects of the UW’s mission (e.g., UG teaching, grad teaching, health sciences, patient services, etc.) that we need to be aware of and seek to monitor or manage more proactively at the institutional level.

In closing, I encourage any Senator or faculty who has questions about the budget or finances to submit his or her questions to me as Chair of SCPB at: The SCPB will collect data in response to any questions submitted to the committee, review relevant analyses, and I will include answers to your queries and a summary of any related SCPB discussions and materials in a future SCPB Chair report.