Education

After students reject more fees, WSU cuts $1.5M per year to pay for Business building

An anonymous donor has pledged $5 million toward building Wayne and Kay Woolsey Hall, the proposed new home of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University.
An anonymous donor has pledged $5 million toward building Wayne and Kay Woolsey Hall, the proposed new home of the W. Frank Barton School of Business at Wichita State University. Wichita State University

Wichita State University has announced it will use budget cuts and reallocations to help pay for a new School of Business building after students voted against raising their own fees.

Provost Richard Muma said the cuts from the general use budget will be about $1.5 million per year — enough to make an annual payment on a $20 million bond. The remaining $30 million needed for the building will come from private gifts to the WSU Foundation.

“We know these reallocations and cuts will be hard, as they will be permanent, since the bond payment will run at least 25 years,” Muma said in a news release. “Many departments and individuals will feel these cuts, but this is the direction we need to take, based on the outcome of the referendum and the university’s need to continue to evolve and grow.”

Students narrowly rejected a plan last month to raise their own fees to pay for a new Frank Barton School of Business building on the university’s Innovation Campus. The proposal called for doubling the campus infrastructure fee for all students to raise $38.5 million, with over half going to the Business building. The rest would have been use for other campus renovation projects.

The March referendum was the highest voter turnout ever, at 28.4 percent, for students at the university. They rejected the plan with 51.5 percent voting against raising student fees..

Muma said after the referendum failed that the university was considering other options to increase revenues from students, including raising fees on business students.

Instead, the funds will come from budget cuts and reallocations. The university estimates $300,000 will come from the School of Business, $675,000 from areas within the Division of Academic Affairs, $200,000 from the Office of Research and Technology Transfer, $275,000 from other divisions and $100,000 from Athletics.

“We respect the results of the referendum, which students defeated by 107 votes of nearly 3,500 votes cast,” Muma said in the release. “As a consequence of that vote, where student fees will not be raised for these purposes, we’ve chosen a path that seeks the same outcome: positioning WSU in a positive way to meet the academic infrastructure needs of future generations of students.”

The proposed $50 million Woolsey Hall will house the new Barton School. It is planned to have a 300-seat auditorium, study rooms, conference rooms and a coffee and snack bar in the building.

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