SPOKANE, Wash. — Expanding degree offerings in partnership with other colleges and universities and bringing new programs to Spokane are the guiding principles in Washington State University’s plans to increase access to higher education and support economic development in Spokane.
A WSU mission statement and draft operational plan due Sept. 1 to the state Higher Education Coordinating Board were unveiled today at a briefing for more than 100 community leaders at the Riverpoint campus. Collaborative programs in health sciences and engineering, plus degrees in three WSU specialty areas of business, are among the plan’s highlights. A six-year, $100 million capital construction plan is included.
The 1998 Legislature dissolved Spokane’s Joint Center for Higher Education and assigned WSU responsibility for development and management of the Riverpoint higher education campus and the role of senior research partner in the Spokane Intercollegiate Research and Technology Institute.
“WSU was asked by the Legislature to prepare for the Higher Education Coordinating Board a plan to expand higher education services delivered at the Riverpoint campus in Spokane,” President Samuel H. Smith said.
“Legislators, HEC Board members and Spokane leaders all recognize that it is time to develop a major public research university campus in Spokane to benefit the future development of the city. The plans unveiled today are the first major steps in accomplishing that,” he said.
“The goal is to have WSU, a major public research university, do for Spokane what the University of Washington does for Seattle,” the president indicated. “The difference here is that we are doing that in collaboration with other higher education institutions in Spokane and the region, rather than doing it alone. Our goal is to establish a win-win process that allows all the higher education institutions to contribute to this expansion.”
President Smith said he and other WSU leaders have held meetings with an array of Spokane business, education, government and community leaders over the past four months to gain community input into the plan. The plan proposes new academic programs tailored to the city’s unique needs and opportunities.
WSU Provost Gretchen M. Bataille, head of a “WSU in Spokane” task force and primary author of the documents to the HECB, said the plan presents a creative approach to offering higher education to meet the needs of the Spokane area, as well as to enhance the economic opportunities there.
“We believe that we are on the way to providing well-organized academic programs, courses that will serve multiple constituencies from traditional students to lifelong learners, and programs that will attract students from beyond the area because of the strength and uniqueness of the offerings,” Bataille wrote.
Partnership programs with other area educational institutions are being formed in business, education, engineering and the health sciences, Bataille said.
Collaborative programs in engineering are included in the operating plan to the HEC Board. New baccalaureate degree programs such as manufacturing, environmental and computer engineering are being planned in cooperation with Gonzaga University and the University of Idaho.
Bataille also said plans are underway for the establishment of a Spokane Health Sciences Consortium. WSU has a long history of involvement in health care education and service in Spokane through the Intercollegiate Center for Nursing Education, pharmacy and mental health programs.
The consortium will bring together higher education institutions in Spokane and the health service agencies to provide core services to support teaching and research, as well as enhanced economic development based on existing strengths in Spokane’s health industry, she remarked.
A series of specialized degree programs in business will be extended from the Pullman campus to Spokane and offered in cooperation with Eastern Washington University.
The first of the business programs will be a master’s degree in technology management, beginning in the fall of 1999. Courses supporting the program are being offered this fall via WSU’s dedicated educational television network.
Three business programs exclusively available at WSU will be extended to Spokane during the next two years. Beginning with the 1999 fall semester, bachelor’s degree programs in real estate studies and in insurance and risk management will be available. The university’s internationally known Hotel and Restaurant Administration program will be delivered to Spokane starting in August 2000. These programs are expected to be offered collaboratively with EWU.
WSU is also exploring formation of an Executive Development Center in Spokane which would offer, in cooperation with other Spokane colleges and universities, an array of noncredit programs for corporate executives in subjects such as international business and executive management.
As fiscal agent for the Riverpoint campus, WSU will develop a capital six-year construction plan expected to be $100 million or more, according to Samuel Kindred, WSU vice president for business affairs.
A health sciences building, academic building, library facilities, bookstore and infrastructure expansion are proposed, Kindred said.
WSU is seeking funds from the 1999 Legislature for construction of a $39 million health sciences building to house programs offered by both WSU and EWU. The structure, containing classrooms, teaching laboratories, support and building facilities, is expected to be completed in October 2001.
In addition, the university seeks $250,000 in pre-design funds in the 1999-01 capital budget for an academic building, estimated at nearly $40 million, enabling WSU to leave the downtown Farm Credit Building and consolidate programs at Riverpoint as mandated in last spring’s legislation.
A capital request from the Office of the Secretary of State will seek funds for a two-story building for state archival records. WSU would occupy the second floor of the two-story building for library and instructional space. Plans call for the $11 million facility to be completed in July 2001.
The university’s final operating report will be submitted Oct. 15, after WSU receives a response from the HECB and input from the many constituencies affected by the plan.