WENATCHEE, Wash.—An anonymous gift of $1 million brings Washington State University and Wenatchee Valley College one step closer to a WVC-based bachelor’s degree program in pomology or tree-fruit management.
The gift will create an endowed chair. The interest income will help support Kent Mullinix, director of the WVC tree fruit program and teacher of pomology, whose position is shared between WVC and WSU.
The endowment income will also support the preparation of a proposal for the Higher Education Coordinating Board to create a WSU baccalaureate degree program in tree-fruit management based at Wenatchee. After the degree program is established, proceeds will be used for course development, facility and equipment upgrades and other program expenses.
“Washington’s tree fruit industry needs and deserves a comprehensive educational program that is calculated, coordinated, effective and efficient,” said Jim Zuiches, dean of WSU’s College of Agriculture and Home Economics. “The magnitude of the industry, its world prominence, and its importance to the state’s economy indicate this. Additionally, education will be key in helping the tree fruit industry meet the upcoming challenges of the 21st century.”
“The task of creating a comprehensive, calculated educational program supporting the tree fruit industry is beyond the charge and capabilities of any single educational institution,” said Mullinix. “This donor recognized this, and will be the one who made it possible for students to earn a bachelor’s degree in tree fruit management from WSU without leaving the Wenatchee Valley.”
The WSU-WVC partnership is one of many efforts WSU is making to extend its academic programs statewide to meet the needs of placebound students. The university’s three branch campuses, seven learning centers and its Extended Degree Program are other examples.
“The need for a bachelor of science degree in pomology in Wenatchee is imperative because of the many people in management, in training for management or in field services who live in this area and who otherwise would be unable to acquire this degree due to cost, families, location and jobs,” said the donor in a written statement with the gift. “This is particularly true for Hispanic residents. It would also be within commute distance for Central Washington University students for courses of interest.”