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Western expects budget shortfalls, hopes to increase enrollment, retention

In an address to Western Washington University, president Sabah Randhawa reflected on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, discussed the university's strategic plan and looked to the future and its impending budget shortfalls.

"The COVID-19 pandemic has also shown how we can adapt and come together in new and innovative ways to advance the mission of the university and public education at a time when it is needed more than ever," he said.

Randhawa reported that students of color represent 29% of the entire university this year and that first-year enrollment stands at its highest yet with 3,237 students. First-year enrollment peaked in fall 2018 at 3,147 students and dipped as low as 2,494 in fall 2020, according to the Office of Institutional Effectiveness.

Randhawa said that the university is optimistic about high levels of future enrollment, but the reduction in tuition revenue in 2020 and 2021 will impact the university's operating budget over the next several years.

"This means that we need to manage resources more effectively, and with an eye to align any new expenses with institutional priorities," he said. "Fortunately, the strategic budgeting process introduced through the last academic year will help us in this effort, and we will continue to enhance it."

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