WSU’s move to distance learning will not cost less, university officials say

WSU to finalize decisions about student fees, college budgets



Stacy Pearson, WSU vice president of finance and administration, said the university is still reviewing the mandated 10 percent budget cuts.

SYDNEY BROWN, Evergreen reporter

The move to remote instruction will not come with fewer expenses, WSU officials said Friday afternoon in the online COVID-19 Town Hall. 

“Certainly it’s not less expensive,” WSU Provost Elizabeth Chilton said. “As someone who has taught courses in both remote environment and face to face, it’s actually much more challenging and many more hours in the case of faculty who had been planning all summer to offer instruction in a hybrid environment.”

Stacy Pearson, WSU vice president of finance and administration, said the university is still reviewing the 10 percent budget cuts mandated for WSU campuses, colleges and administrative units, as well as student fees.

“With all the uncertainties and the announcement of remote [learning], we are watching our enrollment very carefully,” Pearson said.

However, WSU confirmed in its last town hall that tuition will stay the same. WSU President Kirk Schulz said remote instruction will include interactive resources for students that will cost as much as in-person classes. 

“This is not an inferior product,” Schulz said. “We are not going to back to lectures done 10 years ago on videotape and putting them up there.”

WSU will also invest in online-learning and technology training for incoming students, Schulz said. 

Pearson said the university will establish more scholarships for students, using both state and federal money to fund them. 

“[WSU Office of Financial Aid] are forwarding those concerns that we’re hearing about internet access, concerns about ‘Will I be able to keep up in my classes?’” Pearson said. “All of this information is getting communicated.” 

Programs to provide hotspot learning and computer loaning have not been finalized for the fall semester. Chilton said the university still owns the hotspots and will extend their contract to retain them for students. 

WSU staff who have “classes that are 100 percent web-based and blended with global campus are not eligible for the employee tuition waiver,” according to the WSU Office of the Registrar. 

Employees with questions about this should contact the registrar’s office, said Theresa Elliot-Cheslek, WSU associate vice president and chief human resource officer.  

WSU employees who can work from home should still do so, Elliot-Cheslek said. 

WSU will host another online town hall geared toward addressing students’ concerns on Aug. 12. Chilton said the university is on track to release the full fall academic schedule on Aug. 1.