Washington State University looks forward to playing a major leadership role in restructuring and expanding higher education programs to benefit Spokane residents and the city’s economic future.
The structure created by Senate Bill 6655, which was signed April 3 by Gov. Gary Locke, opens the door for new education and research programs to meet the unique needs of Washington’s second largest city. I predict this landmark legislation will result in a significant net gain in educational programs for students of all ages, incomes and ethnic backgrounds. That’s exciting for Spokane and for WSU.
Supporters of expanded Spokane higher education programs should join me in thanking Gov. Gary Locke, Senate Ways and Means Chairman Jim West, Sen. Gene Prince, the Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Spokane Area Chamber of Commerce, for developing this bill and moving it through the long legislative process. Prince and his Ninth District House colleagues, Reps. Larry Sheahan and Mark Schoesler, made an exceptional effort to balance the interests of two major higher education institutions located in their district. The rewrite of the bill by Sheahan in consultation with House Higher Education Chairman Don Carlson, resulted in the bill that was considered by Gov. Locke.
We anticipate building enhanced partnerships with Eastern Washington University, the Community Colleges of Spokane, Gonzaga University and Whitworth College to better serve Spokane’s higher education and research needs. In the coming weeks, we will be meeting with business and community leaders as well as university and college leaders to explore needs and shared opportunities.
To immediately accelerate our work under the terms of the bill, I am naming a “WSU in Spokane” task force to be led by Provost Gretchen Bataille. Its members will include Bill Gray, WSU Spokane campus dean and executive officer; Dorothy Detlor, dean of the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education, based in Spokane; Greg Royer, WSU executive director of budget and planning; and WSU faculty in Spokane and Pullman.
The group will assist me in the development of the plan for our Spokane campus, a plan due to the Higher Education Coordinating Board in December. They will work closely with civic, business and educational leaders so that the plan makes sense for Spokane.
It is our expectation that WSU Spokane will develop in ways similar to our WSU Tri-Cities and WSU Vancouver campuses. In other words, we will propose new academic programs tailored to the unique needs and opportunities in Spokane, as we have done in the Tri-Cities and Vancouver.
Washington State University is pleased to be playing a major role in assuring a bright future for Spokane.