PULLMAN, Wash.–Washington State University is excited about the emerging opportunity to provide higher education leadership in Spokane, regent Kenneth Alhadeff, Seattle, said during Friday’s board meeting here.
“While we await final approval by the governor, it is important to say that WSU is sensitive to the concerns of other institutions in Spokane,” he noted. WSU expects to provide leadership in the city “in a passionate, sensitive and professional manner,” he said.
Both the Washington House and Senate have approved legislation eliminating the Joint Center Board and giving WSU responsibility for managing the Riverpoint Higher Education Park and developing a research campus to serve Spokane.
In action on business affairs matters, the regents approved schematic designs and authorized the university to complete design development and seek and award bids for physical plant maintenance shops at WSU Vancouver and Valley Road recreational fields for WSU Pullman. The recreational fields are funded by student facility fees.
The board also approved a WSU request to use a general contractor/construction manager process for two major projects, the new student recreation center and a teaching and learning building on the Pullman campus. The regents also gave the go-ahead to select a GC/CM and award contracts if construction costs can be established within the amount of funds available.
The regents heard a presentation on faculty salaries showing WSU faculty would be 19 percent behind their peers in the 1999-2000 year if the Legislature does not approve salary increases next year.
“During the 1990s, average incomes in Washington rose 54 percent, while WSU faculty salaries rose just 34 percent,” WSU economics professor Carolyn Clark told the regents.
She stressed that WSU faculty do not receive automatic increments for longevity as public school teachers and many other state employees do. It is critical for the faculty to act to provide pay increases so WSU can keep its best faculty, she said.
The regents also heard from four employees representing classified staff concerned about the possible elimination of the Staff Senate. WSU faces the possibility of disbanding its staff senate as the result of a lawsuit by the Washington Federation of State Employees.
“My fear is that if the Staff Senate is eliminated, it will cut off our connection with you all,” custodial supervisor Tony Rogers told regents and university administrators.
Some 35 staff attended the start of the meeting to show their support.
In other action, the regents elected Carmen Otero, Seattle, as president of the board, and Peter J. Goldmark, Okanogan, vice president, effective May 1.