After the election results were in, WSU Today asked faculty across campus what they thought about the state of higher education. The question was posed: “Now that the election is over, what do you hope to see happen first and what do you see happening to higher education in the state of Washington?”

Many respondents made reference to Initiative 884, which, had it passed, would have allocated funding to education through a one-percent state sales-tax increase.

Amy Mazur, professor of political science, hopes people in education were not relying on the initiative to finance future projects in higher education. “There is a need for more money in higher education,” she said. “Let’s capitalize on the movement (built behind) the initiative and not focus on its defeat. We can always improve on what we have. I am a ‘glass is half-full’ person.”

“Given the department I come from, I am hoping advocates for education can learn some things about how we can advocate more effectively for public support,” said Erica Austin, professor of communication. “We need to be very clear about what the benefits of supporting higher education are, making the risks (of low funding) seem personal and concrete to those who otherwise may not support us.”

Robert Barnstone, assistant professor of architecture, said the lack of funding coming to higher education will have a negative affect on diversity in the university community. “We are in a position now where we are constantly transferring the load from the state to the student,” he said. “We are basically affecting the lower class, in that many people will not be able to afford higher education – this is ultimately a class war.” Barnstone said people are voting against their best interest and, without intervention on a state and federal level, the future of higher education may not be bright.

Keith Bloom, quality assurance officer with Capital Planning and Development and Pullman City Council member, said that while the initiative did not pass, WSU has not lost its support on the national and state level. “Schlosser and Murray are both very pro-WSU,” he said. “I am looking forward to a good relationship.” Bloom does not see the issue of funding for higher education as a Republican or Democrat issue, but something everyone should take a vested interest in. “It’s about moving forward as a country,” he said. “If we’re not educating, we are incarcerating and rehabilitating — and the latter two far exceed the cost of educating.”

“I really hope we pull together as a country and develop a good scientific base,” said Suzanne Lindsey, associate professor of pharmacy. “We need to encourage and motivate young people to go into the sciences.” One way to entice more students into the sciences may be by placing more importance on science and giving higher rewards for participating in it, she said. “Otherwise we are going to lose our innovative and competitive scientific edge in this country.”

“I would like to think there’s a hope for higher education in the state,” said John Bassman, professor of natural resource sciences. “It has suffered quite drastically and we are now at a crisis point.” Higher education cannot continue to stay competitive under the current conditions, he said, adding that a mechanism to guarantee a base-level support for higher education needs to be put into place. “We need to offer competitive salaries for professors in order to keep good faculty and get good students,” said Bassman. “We need a consistent level of support that is adjusted to meet the needs and demands to produce a competitive student body.”

Larry Fox, professor of veterinary clinical science and animal sciences, hopes for continued excellence in higher education. “There should be no change in what we give to the WSU student,” he said. “I don’t think WSU was hinging its plans on one initiative, but it clearly would have made things easier.” Fox points out that the university laid out its goals and objectives before the election, so overall plans should not be altered due to one election. However, someone ultimately has to foot the bill, and that burden has been falling increasingly on the students, said Fox. “I hope the state electorate will make it an issue so as not to excessively burden the students,” he said. “Someone’s got to come to grips with the cost of education.”

“I would hope for there to be some introspection on the part of the people of the state, in so far as education is concerned,” said Carol Sheppard, assistant professor of entomology and Honors College professor. “The vote on Initiative 884 was almost 2 to 1 against. Yet the projected increase in students who will attend public institutions of higher education in the coming years is significant and cannot be accommodated at current funding levels.” Had I-884 passed, WSU would have used a significant portion of the funds for new enrollments, as well as Promise Scholarships and the State Need Grants Program, which make college a reality for those less fortunate, said Sheppard. “The situation is dire and, with a large state budget deficit in the offing, there doesn’t seem to be a facile solution.”