TRI-CITIES, Wash. — The presidents of Washington State University and the University of Washington will hold a joint news conference in Pasco on Monday, Dec. 16, prior to their appearance as guest speakers at the Pasco Chamber of Commerce meeting.

The new conference is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. in the lobby of the West Coast Hotel, at 2525 N. 20th in Pasco.

WSU President V. Lane Rawlins and UW Interim President Lee Huntsman are expected to tell Pasco Chamber members and gathered community leaders about their concerns for the future of higher education in the state.

Last month, the two presidents called on the State Legislature to stop “watering the soup,” by allocating funding that has not kept pace with the per-student cost of providing education at Washington’s two largest universities.

The presidents have already asked Washington Governor Gary Locke and the legislature to boost the core funding of WSU and UW by nearly $100 million in the 2003-05 biennium. They say increased research funding, improvement of faculty salaries and better academic budgets are critical if the universities are to maintain their high standing and quality.