All of Washington’s public colleges and universities have proposed that the state establish a $500 million public-private partnership to enhance the quality of higher education in Washington.
The proposed Endowment for Higher Education would match $250 million in private donations with an equal amount in state funds to create permanent endowments in perpetuity at each institution, from which only earnings would be spent. The funds would be used to improve the quality of higher education programs in Washington by supporting undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, distinguished professorships, library resources, equipment, faculty teaching awards, innovative approaches to faculty development, and initiatives for curriculum development and service delivery.
The proposal has been endorsed by all 32 presidents of the state’s community and technical colleges and by the six presidents of Washington’s public four-year institutions.
“We are at a turning point for higher education in Washington,” said Sam Smith, president of Washington State University. “We have a robust state economy and the opportunity to determine what kinds of investments are most likely to secure a bright future for the citizens of our state. We believe the state can make no better investment than one which develops our state’s people.”
“The Endowment for Higher Education is a down payment for our future,” said UW president Richard L. McCormick. “Here in 1998 we have the ability through a modest one-time investment to help ensure forever a high quality educational opportunity for the citizens of this state, their children and future generations. What better legacy can we leave than to provide the margin of excellence to help future students fulfill their dreams?”
Earl Hale, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, said, “This proposal gives the state an opportunity to make a significant investment in higher education and create a major incentive for us to seek out more private-sector partners. These funds would help two-year colleges improve the quality of education and job training in communities all over the state.”
Karen Morse, president of Western Washington University, said, “We believe the idea of a state match will be attractive to many private donors who want to help improve the quality of higher education in this state. This program will supplement but not supplant current fundraising efforts in higher education.”
The proposed endowment would be created by a one-time state appropriation of $250 million. Each institution would be eligible for a defined share of the state appropriation, but funds would be released to institutions only when they had raised the necessary private matching donations. Institutions would have five years to raise their share of the private matching money, after which time the unmatched state money would revert to a common pool, to be redistributed on a “first come, first served” basis to institutions raising additional private matching money.
Higher education leaders emphasized that establishing the endowment can be done with a one-time state expenditure. Once created, the endowment fund would not require any ongoing state appropriation.