Tri-Cities lawyer appointed to WSU Board of Regents

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Francois (Fran) Forgette of Kennewick has been appointed to the Washington State University Board of Regents by Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire. His term is effective immediately and ends Sept. 30, 2007.

In addition, Justin Leighton, a WSU senior studying agriculture education, has been appointed as the new student member of the WSU Board of Regents.

Forgette [For-jet] replaces Steven R. Hill of Tacoma, who was appointed by Gregoire in April as the administrator of the Washington State Health Care Authority.

Forgette is a partner with the Tri-Cities law firm of Rettig Osborne Forgette LLP, which he joined in 1977 after graduating from Gonzaga Law School. He is chairman of the board of the Tri-City Industrial Development Council (TRIDEC). He is a past president of several organizations and boards, including the Tri-Cities Cancer Center, Tri-City Area Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Cities Estate Planning Council and Catholic Family and Child Services.

As chairman of TRIDEC, Forgette has been actively involved in discussions and planning about higher education’s role in the region.

“The Tri-Cities has been looking hard at the future of higher education in this area. It is an issue that has really caught the interest of the community here,” Forgette said.

He said developing and expanding the educational role of WSU Tri-Cities and building closer ties with the Pacific Northwest National Laboratories will be vital for regional economic development.

While Forgette has been at the center of discussions of higher education issues in the Tri-Cities, he said he is also looking forward to learning more about WSU programs in Pullman and statewide.

Forgette will be the first WSU regent from the Tri-Cities since William R. Wiley of Richland served on the board from 1989-1994.

Leighton, a 2001 graduate of Franklin Pierce High School in Tacoma, has served as a member of the Student Book Corp. Board of Directors, as president and vice president of Orton Hall and as president of the Agricultural Education Club during his years at WSU.

“Justin Leighton has distinguished himself as a student leader. I believe that Justin will continue in the tradition of strong student regents and bring a very special perspective to the board,” said WSU President V. Lane Rawlins. “This is an excellent choice and should help assure that we put student interests first in all of our decisions.”

Leighton said he is looking forward to serving as student regent, a job he sees as providing an important student perspective on issues facing the board.

“My main purpose is to be an advocate for students. I want to help make sure that students are being listened to,” Leighton said. “In all of the leadership positions I have had, I have tried to listen hard to what students want and I hope to share that point of view with the regents.”

Leighton, whose term runs from June 1, 2005, to May 31, 2006, will be the eighth WSU student regent. The student regent represents students from all of WSU’s campuses and holds full voting rights and privileges. Leighton succeeds Brady Horenstein of Vancouver who served as student regent for the past academic year.

Leighton is the son of Renee and Douglas Leighton of Puyallup.

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