PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington’s six public baccalaureate institutions have teamed up on a new program that allows students in four regions to start earning four-year business degrees close to home starting this fall and from nearly any location in the state by the year 2000.
The first-of-its-kind distance education degree in business administration will offer two courses starting in late August. The program, championed by the College of Business and Economics at Washington State University, got the official go-ahead in a unanimous vote Tuesday by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating (HEC) Board in Ellensburg.
Joining WSU in the consortium are Central Washington University, Eastern Washington University, The Evergreen State College, the University of Washington, and Western Washington University.
“This is the successful culmination of considerable work by all members of the consortium and marks a significant step toward meeting the state’s goal of improving access to higher education for our diverse population,” WSU President Samuel H. Smith said. “Using the latest distance learning technologies, educators from universities throughout Washington will deliver courses to citizens who, up until now, could not earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration without leaving home.
“We at WSU are excited to work as partners in education with other universities on this important venture,” Smith said.
The first courses will be offered from WSU via interactive television connections and the World Wide Web starting in August. They are “Theory of the Firm and Market Policy (Economics 301)” and “Management Information Systems (MIS 350).” The courses will be delivered late Monday and Wednesday afternoons at four community college sites: Centralia, Peninsula, Skagit Valley and Walla Walla.

Other consortium universities will also offer selected distance business courses to students in the program starting this fall semester. The schedule of additional course offerings will be available within the next few weeks. It’s planned that all members of the consortium will offer courses in the future.
“Eastern Washington University is pleased to be a partner with WSU and our other sister institutions in this innovative consortium,” said EWU President Stephen M. Jordan. “We see this program as establishing the model for other cooperatively-delivered degree programs, playing off the strengths of each institution.”
Students become eligible to participate in the program by completing the first two years of their undergraduate business programs at consortium member universities or in the state’s community college network. They will take junior- and senior-level coursework through the new program. The first enrollees become eligible for a bachelor of arts degree in business administration with a major in general business from WSU. Potentially, the first graduates of the consortium distance business program could complete programs as early as Year 2000.
July 1, 2000, is the target date for implementing a new consortial B.A. in business administration to replace the WSU program. A steering committee of five consortium deans and one representative each from Evergreen, the Council of Presidents, and the Interinstitutional Council for Academic Program Planning will meet regularly to plan and develop the program.
“Washington State University, and the College of Business and Economics in particular, have had considerable success in providing distance education,” says A. Gale Sullenberger, the college’s dean and chair of the Consortium Steering Committee. “This new consortium distance business degree expands the distance education opportunities that we, and the other members, have set in motion in Washington. The benefactors will be the new students all across the state we can serve with this innovative degree.”
For more information, contact WSU CBE Associate Dean for Distance Education Ernst Stromsdorfer at 509/335-3596, stroms@wsu.edu, or the WSU Extended University Services office, 509/335-7878.