Medical school expansion tops WSU legislative agenda

Washington State Capitol building with US, state and WSU flags flying in front.
Washington State Capitol Building

By David Wasson, WSU News

Continued growth and expansion of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine tops the WSU legislative agenda for 2019.

The university system also is seeking enough state funding to provide all faculty and nonrepresented staff with 4 percent raises in each of the next two years. Other priorities include allocations for WSU’s soil health initiative and for construction of new research and academic facilities.

“Our legislative agenda reflects our mission, which is fundamentally about advancing the state’s priorities,” said Colleen Kerr, WSU vice president for external affairs and government relations. “Whether it’s providing solutions to address access to quality health care, innovative agricultural research to support strong and healthy communities around the state, or quality education for students, WSU is about helping to move Washington ahead.”

The Washington Legislature is set to convene Jan. 14 in Olympia for its 105‑day session, where the state’s new two‑year budget will be crafted.

WSU founded the College of Medicine in 2015 with a mission to increase the number of physicians to help alleviate doctor shortages and bring health care to underserved communities and populations across Washington. With two cohorts of 60 students each currently enrolled, WSU now wants to expand the number of available seats for new first‑year students to 80.

The university is asking for $14.4 million to fund the third- and fourth-year instruction for the 60 annual seats already funded for first and second year. That request also would fund the first- and second-year component of a 20 seat per year expansion, allowing the college to admit 80 students this fall.

Here’s a look at the other highlights of the university’s legislative agenda.

Operating budget

  • WSU is requesting $38.4 million to fund two increases of 4 percent each for faculty and nonrepresented staff. The university’s leadership calls it a critical tool needed to recruit and retain the employees who provide quality teaching, offer quality leadership, and provide the services that ensure students graduate on time.
  • $2.8 million for a soil health research initiative that supports the state’s world‑class agricultural industry and environmental priorities. Healthy soil means healthy communities for the growing state.

Capital budget

  • $36.4 million to complete construction funding for Global Animal Health II in Pullman, the new home of the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Lab.
  • $27 million to build a new Academic Building at WSU Tri‑Cities.
  • $4 million for design of a new Life Sciences Building at WSU Vancouver.
  • $500,000 for predesign of a new Health Sciences Building at WSU Spokane.

For updates throughout the legislative session, check out the WSU Government Relations news blog.

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