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WSU Vancouver and WSU Everett Fall Forums Q&A

What other opportunities are there for professional development funds? I am aware (and appreciative) of APAC’s mini-grants but there has to be more available from the institution.

APAC launched in the fall the WSU Employee Presidential Scholarship open to all WSU staff. This is a scholarship for online courses through Global Campus. The scholarship allows an eligible employee to take three (3) Global Campus credits for one semester. This is a competitive scholarship and not all who apply will receive a scholarship. For more information, please visit our website at

I would like to know what protections are in place for employees who were victims of coworker sexual harassment on their campus? Especially if they work in the same department or building.

WSU is committed to being an institution that demonstrates trust and respect for all persons. If you are in a situation of sexual harassment or sexual misconduct, please reach out to the following offices for reporting and assistance.

Office of Equal Opportunity
French Administration Building, Room 225
Phone: 509-335-8288

Title IX Coordinator
Kimberly D. Anderson
French Administration Building, Room 225
Phone: 509-335-8288

I am concerned about the workload of several of our AP and civil service staff. I think many of our talented employees are taken on an exceptional amount of work causing low morale, and burnout with no merit increases and position advancements since Everett opened in 2012.  Their position responsibilities are not reflective of the responsibilities held by similar colleagues at other campuses. At Everett, you may have one person who is doing the work of 4-8 different departments, and on the other campuses they may have, a department of 20 people taking on the responsibilities that one person at Everett is responsible for. I am curious about how APAC can help in making these challenges known to other campuses who may not understand the obstacles that Everett staff-both AP and civil service face.  Secondly, what suggestions do you have in keeping talented and some of the younger employees in their jobs here at Everett given that millennials are known to job hop quite frequently? I am truly concerned that when these talented employees leave, WSU Everett and our students will suffer tremendously.

Because WSU Everett is still small with respect to student numbers, we are proportionally small with respect to staff numbers; it is difficult for us to provide promotions to the level of director and/or above because many employees do not have direct reports. Even so, we continue to review our positions and have provided advancements to employees in order to align their job descriptions and their work. As for merit increases, we have followed the guidelines set by the university and have not given merit increases above and beyond those guidelines due to Presidential directive.

With respect to our employees taking on multiple roles, WSU Everett is a start-up campus which means most faculty and staff members have multiple roles. I have learned from my experiences that this is the reality for most small organizations. It certainly was the reality for our system campuses as they grew from start-ups to the comprehensive campuses they are today. Even so, they still have individuals within their organizational structures that have multiple job functions, as they are still fairly small compared to our main campus. The advantage many of our employees get is that they are able to gain valuable experiences. These are experiences that will help them in their career trajectory, whether or not their career is within or outside WSU. As for retention, 100% of WSU Everett AP staff members participated in a professional development activity of their choice in 2017-18. Some requested more than one professional development opportunity and were granted funding. We believe this is the best way to retain employees, while at the same time helping them to prepare for the next step in their career.

As for our millennial employees, they are doing good work, I believe they have great potential, and I especially appreciate their ambition. Through our focus on professional development, we will be able to help them grow in key areas, which in turn will help us grow as an organization.

With 275 students, we will need to grow considerably before we can expect to compare ourselves with other system campuses. Even our system campuses collapse job functions when employees leave the organization; many times their work and roles are absorbed by existing staff.  As we grow, we will have the opportunity to add new employees and for staff to take on more exclusive roles. As I have stated many times and will continue to emphasize, our growth is the key. It is important, first and foremost, for the communities we serve. We must continue to grow the types of programs and services we can provide. As we grow we will need to build additional capacity to ensure our sustainability.

WSU Everett seems to have many people employed at the Vice Chancellor level who have been direct appointments. This seems to be unnecessary considering we don’t even have 300 students on our campus. There have been no direct appointments, merit increases or advancements made to anyone (AP and civil service) who is below this level in spite of these people taking on an enormous amount of responsibilities and being responsible for the delivery of services on our campus. How can we justify this practice to our students who constantly want to see more faculty and admin who deliver services hired?

Chancellor Pitre: As a point of clarification, we do not have a Vice Chancellor. WSU Everett has exactly 1.5 FTE at the level of Associate Vice Chancellor—one for marketing and community relations and the other for academic and student affairs. One of those positions—one full FTE—was provided to WSU Everett by another unit that was restructuring. Because there was an FTE that did not fit the changing configuration, that FTE was made available to WSU Everett. Because the skill set of the person filling that FTE fit with the needs of WSU Everett, we seized the opportunity and added that person, and the FTE they brought, to our organization.

We also have one .5 FTE Associate Vice Chancellor. This appointment was made at the direction of President Schulz. President Schulz asked me to bring on someone at the Vice Chancellor level that could share the higher-level responsibilities assigned to me and to back me up when I am out of the office, out on travel, or should I have some sort of personal or family emergency. Because this position had to be a faculty member with administrative experience, the pool of potential candidates was small. Because we do not have the resources to hire a full time Vice Chancellor (and because a full FTE is not justifiable at our current size… not to mention that we do not have the dollars to afford it) I opted to appoint one of our respected faculty members to take on the half-time Associate Vice Chancellor position. It is important to note that this faculty member came to us from a program that had additional faculty capacity, so the administrative appointment helped make the academic department more productive. All this to say that both of these appointments were made with a focus on specific need and fiscal pragmatism.

Chancellor Netzhammer: One of the things that is true about our system is that Pullman may have 20 people doing the same thing, while the other campuses have one person doing 20 things. That’s the result of our size differences. One of the things we’ve been working on over the last few years is to bring some relief by creating position descriptions for our campuses, that recognize this difference. Having the same position description when the roles are so different was frustrating. We need to craft position descriptions specific to the campus with greater frequency and with greater clarity.

Competitive compensation and cost of living. Can we have a review of compensation for this side of the mountains as we could easily go to a different college/university and make a lot more?

WSU HRS uses Payfactors, a compensation data management tool for customized market pricing data based on industry, size, and geographical areas.

In addition to Payfactors, HRS utilizes the College and University Professional Association – Human Resources (CUPA-HR) salary data. Both Payfactors and CUPA-HR are recognized leaders in compensation salary data for higher education.

Any Administrative Professional (AP) employee may request a salary review in accordance with BPPM 60.12 – AP Salary Determination and Adjustment by providing HRS and supervisor with a memorandum describing the circumstances for the request, a signed position description that includes duties and responsibilities, and an organization chart showing the relationship to other positions. **employees can go directly to HRS and not the supervisor but if action is requested the supervisor will be informed, also employees may contact Pullman HRS directly, they do not need to start with their campus HRS.

In accordance to BPPPM 60.12 – AP Professional Salary Determination and Adjustment, HRS administers the procedures for administrative professional (AP) salary determinations and adjustment. New employees are typically hired at a salary between the minimum to the average of the WSU salary range as published on the HRS website.  HRS must review and approve a starting salary above the average of the salary range prior to the department making an offer to the applicant. It is the hiring manager’s discretion to request a market data review from HRS. Once requested, HRS utilizes market data and internal data in making salary recommendations. However, other variables such as knowledge, skills, experience, affect compensation.

The following chart shows the internal and market data for select positions on all campuses (click image for full-size view):

Vancouver seems very top heavy with several chancellor type positions (vice/asst vice). What is the strategic thinking behind this? What benefits does it provide the staff?

We have tried to look at comparisons to similar institutions in response to faculty questions about whether Vancouver is “top heavy” on administration; it is difficult to make comparisons because the WSU system is organized very differently than most university systems. From what comparative data we can find, Vancouver does have a smaller administration than the norm. There are three Vice Chancellors, one heading each of the “divisions” of the campus—this has been the case for many years. There are two Associate Vice Chancellor positions in Academic Affairs, which are faculty positions. There is one recently-created Associate Vice Chancellor position in Facilities Services, which is an AP position, and a newly-created Assistant Vice Chancellor position for Community Engagement which was created in part through the campus strategic plan, and in part as a partnership with the WSU system. These are currently the only positions on the campus with Vice Chancellor/Associate Vice Chancellor/Assistant Vice Chancellor titles. Only two of them are completely new positions created in the past six years; the others have grown with the growth of the campus and have been appropriately re-titled with that growth. There are also four AP Director-level positions at the cabinet level (one of them newly created as part of the strategic plan), three in student affairs and two in Academic Affairs. All of these positions serve our faculty, staff and students by providing support for the mission of WSU and WSU Vancouver.

Why can’t the Vancouver campus do the same things like Pullman? For example: Direct appointments and hiring staff at or above the median.  

There is an opportunity to hire above the median but specific requests with justification need to be made and ultimately approved by budget council at WSU Vancouver and HRS for the system.

The campus has done this. The issue is contextual, is related to hiring and the funding available for a position. We have done salary compression studies for faculty and staff in four of the six years I’ve been here, so it’s something we take very seriously. We have made many adjustments.

We also direct appoint when it’s warranted. Direct appointments need to be managed carefully, as they can have an impact on the ability of the campus to diversify our workforce. Recently, for example, we made a direct appointment because an individual was qualified for the position and the position he was vacating had attracted a more diverse pool previously than the one he was moving into.

In sum, we have the ability to do both these things and, like Pullman and other WSU campuses, exercise caution and careful judgment in doing them.

Can you help us understand how we can pay for a new vice chancellor type position (Max Ault) at the same time we are told to cut spending for supplies, faculty development, travel, etc. while administration doesn’t cut their spending?

The Strategic Plan at WSU Vancouver was developed by staff, faculty and students. The plan called for one senior administrative position (Obie Ford), as well as several staff and faculty positions. All but one of those positions has been hired at this point. The community engagement position (Max Ault) was one of them. The specific position referred to above was already being funded with a half-time faculty member and will be jointly funded by two campuses going forward.

Every administrative unit has taken the same cut, though they have met it in different ways.

Can you explain the ERP tax? After the ERP implementation, the team would still be in place, doing what and why isn’t there any FTE on Vancouver campus, or any other campus besides Pullman?

Starting in FY 2019, an ERP payroll tax was implemented to help pay for the costs of the new HR and Finance system. This tax is assessed on accounts that have payroll lines, with no charges on grant accounts. The tax is currently .5 percent of payroll for FY 2019 and will increase to 1 percent in FY 2020 and forward. At this time, the team is not expecting a further increase but either stay steady or decrease.

Currently, the AFOs of the campus attend meetings but they the modernization team is looking for more ways to have employees engaged and there will be a campus representative in the near future. The Modernization project leadership will identify a modernization representative for each campus. Will communicate with APAC by spring on progress

Kickoff begins in January with meetings on every campus and employees can go to to stay up to date with the process, find the schedules for the kickoff, and contact the modernization team with any questions.

Staff travel is hard, as some do not have the funds to pay for their hotel when that can be hundreds up to thousand dollars. Vancouver campus isn’t allowed travel cards. What can be done to help this burden, why can’t the department use the purchase card to pay for the hotel in advance?

All university employees are eligible to get a travel card if needed for university travel, regardless of campus. The controller’s office will communicate with all campuses regarding travel cards as all university employees who travel for university business are allowed to have travel cards.

The controller’s office will set up trainings on all campuses on travel and travel cards and will provide guidelines for exceptions and when to call the travel office. The Travel team had their first quarterly open house on October 26th and will invite all employees to the next session in late January once scheduled. The travel team will set up a specific meeting with Finance staff at each of the campuses between January and April 2019, prior to the next conference season.

The university purchasing card cannot be used to pay for employee’s lodging per policy unless an exception has been approved due to the added risk and since the processes are different and governed by separate policies. The traveler is encouraged to apply for a travel card since this extends the employee’s credit without a personal burden and if a correct and timely reimbursement is submitted and approved, the majority of the time, the employee will be reimbursed in full prior to the balance being due.  If an employee feels that paying for the lodging will still be a financial burden, they can fill out an exception, have their approving authority sign, send to travel for approval and then to purchasing card services for final approval. When using the purchasing card, only university business travel accommodations will be purchased. Example, a conference, which starts on Sunday evening and ends Wednesday at noon, WSU will purchase lodging from Sunday with checkout on Wednesday unless flight times prove that the employee must arrive on Saturday or leave Thursday. The employee will pay for all other lodging and incidentals. Full payment will be made, as purchasing cards will not be checked out for the use of the individual traveling. The traveler will still need to provide the hotel with a credit card for incidentals and all receipts for substantiation.

The travel office has little support, what can be done so reimbursements do not take so long, upwards of 6 weeks sometimes when some staff do not have the financial resources to be out those funds for so long?

The travel office had turnover in the office but are hiring and will be fully staffed. The travel office is working hard to process all the travel reimbursements for the university system-wide. If a travel reimbursement delay will cause financial distress to the employee, the employee is encouraged to contact the travel office or the Controller to see if their reimbursement can be expedited.