Faculty COVID-19 testing limited by resources, administrators say

WSU requests $10 million for salary increases; administrators to visit other campus locations for town halls



WSU President Kirk Schulz said in a virtual town hall Tuesday afternoon that WSU requested $10 million from the state legislature to fund salary increases for faculty and staff.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen news editor

WSU officials announced that a national supply chain issue caused limited access to faculty COVID-19 testing.

WSU could ramp up testing overnight if not for this shortage, said WSU President Kirk Schulz. Pullman Regional Hospital is working to provide more testing for the area.

“We may be in a very different place, say, Nov. 1, versus where we are today,” Schulz said. 

WSU does not have a COVID-19 case dashboard because administrators want to focus on vaccination efforts and not the number of positive cases, he said. Updated case numbers are available through the Whitman County Health Department website.

Schulz said administrators are trying to balance students’ desire for in-person experience and faculty’s desire for flexible instructional modes. 

“While we appreciate Zoom and all the work faculty and staff did to accommodate during that time, the majority of our students — at least that I’ve communicated with — have been extremely clear that they do not want to go back to that,” he said.

WSU is asking for over $10 million from the state to increase faculty and staff salaries, Schulz said. The five other state schools asked for similar funds for salary increases during the next legislative session.

“I expect faculty to hold me accountable for figuring out creative ways to do this that are fiscally sustainable,” he said.

Schulz said his priority for the next year is to build the largest salary pool possible and sustain it over time.

WSU Provost Elizabeth Chilton said she is frustrated she has not been able to visit the WSU campuses and extension centers as much as she would like because of the ongoing pandemic. 

Schulz and Chilton are presenting town halls at each of the WSU campuses this semester, Chilton said.