SEATTLE, Wash. — Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins told the school’s Board of Regents today (Jan. 24) that it is time to adjust the university’s administrative and governance structures to allow WSU’s newer campuses to better serve their regions of the state.
Rawlins provided the board a set of recommendations he and Provost Robert Bates propose following an 18-month study of the WSU campuses in Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver. The views of community and campus representatives were included in the study.
“Our three newer campuses have expanded substantially the opportunities for education and research in their parts of the state, and we have reason to be very proud of what they have become,” Rawlins told the regents. “At the same time, it is clear that there is more to be done to fulfill our pledge to those areas to improve access to bachelor’s and graduate degrees and to benefit economic development.”
Today’s presentation is just the start of the public discussion of the recommendation and regents will not take action before the March meeting on the Pullman campus, Rawlins said.
At the heart of the recommendations is a shift in the way the university thinks about its three campuses located in urban areas of the state. WSU launched this enterprise during the 1980s as a branch campus system run entirely from the main campus in Pullman.
“It is time now to move toward a Washington State University system, granting our newer campuses greater autonomy to serve the distinctive needs of their regions while maintaining those strengths and efficiencies that come from a university system. It is time to recognize that they are in fact unique campuses, not simply branches of the Pullman campus,” Rawlins said.
The president said none of the communities expressed any desire to distance themselves from WSU’s values and high academic standards. “The professors at our newer campuses clearly expressed a desire to retain their status as WSU faculty members,” he said.
Rawlins said the proposed recommendations are changes needed to foster the growth of WSU’s newer campuses in ways best suited to their own communities and students.
The recommendations include:
–One regent be assigned to each campus to play a role in governance. The president also suggested that a new regents’ committee be created for oversight of the newer campuses, and the role of the campus advisory boards be reviewed.
–The campus executive officers become chancellors with authority to administer the functions of their campuses, and represent their campuses with a seat at Regents’ meetings.
–A number of system councils be created to deal with plans, programs and issues for the WSU system.
–Academic programs may be located at any of the campuses as long as the principles of quality and cost effectiveness are maintained.
–Lower-division undergraduate work at any of the newer campuses may be offered in coordination with and by permission of the local community colleges, for example in seamless programs that allow dual enrollment at a community college and WSU.
–Graduate education remains a system-wide enterprise with a single graduate faculty.
–WSU would maintain one faculty and academic degrees from one university, but recognize separate student bodies with fees tailored to each campus.
“We recognize that each of our newer campuses has different challenges and opportunities ahead of them, and those need to be taken into consideration as we plan for the future,” the president said.
The Spokane campus is primarily focused on professional and graduate education and research, much of which is closely aligned with the Pullman campus. “We are recommending that the chancellor for WSU Spokane have second, university-wide responsibility as vice provost for health sciences to foster the future development of programs in that important area. And we foresee closer ties between the Pullman and Spokane campuses for the benefit of both,” Rawlins said.
The Tri-Cities campus will likely develop by meeting a distinctive set of area needs in education and research. Programs to serve Hanford and associated research and engineering organizations as well as the modern agriculture industry of the region, plus academic programs to serve place-bound students and the area’s large Hispanic population will likely be at the core of WSU Tri-Cities’ future. The key to success in undergraduate studies in Tri-Cities is a strong working relationship with Columbia Basin College, the president told the regents.
The Vancouver campus is located in a burgeoning area of Washington with many needs for quality higher education programs. “WSU Vancouver is becoming a destination campus, and is likely to develop innovative undergraduate programs in collaboration with area community colleges to attract talented students seeking a coherent four-year university experience,” Rawlins said. “The campus also has opportunities for high-level graduate education and research in selected areas. Here, also, we see the campus playing a larger role in economic development for the region.”
An array of faculty governance issues need to be clarified in relation to these recommendations, and the Faculty Senate has already begun that work, the president said. In addition, many administrative functions in areas such as student recruiting, student affairs, fund-raising, marketing, information technology, libraries and more need to be reviewed in a university system context and then appropriate procedures developed. The president expects that work may take as much as 18 months to complete.
Rawlins said he will visit each of the newer campuses before the regents’ March meeting to talk with faculty and staff about the changes. Those of the Pullman campus will be able to ask questions and share comments during the president’s Feb. 12 noon Dialogue at the Compton Union Building.
“I look forward to talking about these recommendations that affirm both the common mission of WSU’s campuses and their ability to fulfill that mission in distinctive ways relevant to the needs of their students and communities,” the president said.
The entire document is available online at the following Web page: