Government Relations


Higher Education vital to Washington’s economic future

Washington’s educational attainment levels just won’t cut it to meet our state’s future economic needs.

That’s the thesis of a guest column published on The Seattle Times last week authored by chair and executive director of the Washington Student Achievement Council. Maud Daudon, also the CEO of the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, and Gene Sharratt called for collaboration between all sectors on the educational spectrum and a shared commitment between state government, educational institutions and local businesses in order to improve educational attainment levels in Washington.

The demand for skilled workers with postsecondary education continues to grow, and yet Washington is seeing a widening gap in achievement between poor and middle-income students, they wrote.

“If our state fails to educate a skilled workforce, employers will fill middle-income jobs by importing talent or relocating,” Daudon and Sharratt write. “We can and we must do better.”

Read the full article on The Seattle Times here.

WSU talks cross laminated timber in Ways & Means

Another work session was held on cross laminated timber this week, this time in the Senate Ways and Means Committee, as lawmakers seek to educate themselves on this developing material and its possible utilization in planned construction projects.

Dr. Dan Dolan, WSU Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, briefed the House Capital Budget Committee on the same subject last week.

Cross laminated timber is being considered to help provide new options for meeting construction demands while bolstering the timber industry in Washington and WSU is at the forefront of research efforts.

WSU’s Mike Wolcott, a regents professor and director of the university’s Institute for Sustainable Design, spoke towards the research he has been doing on cross laminated timber and the steps being taken to make this technology more viable.

Watch Wolcott’s presentation at the work session below:

Cougs swarm state Capitol in droves

IMG_5015Some 100 WSU students turned out for the annual Coug Day at the Capitol today to advance the cause of higher education.

Some 65 meetings with legislators and staff were scheduled, a slate that approached half the offices in the state Legislature. Students came not only from the Pullman campus but also from Vancouver, the Tri-Cities, Spokane and Everett. Of those participating, half came from a WSU campus other than Pullman.

The event is organized each year by the Associated Students of Washington State University to support student involvement in higher education issues and the ASWSU legislative agenda.

Coug Day events can be followed on Twitter using the hashtag #CougDay2016.

WSU prioritizes Small Business Development Centers in 2016 Legislative Session

Local efforts to keep the doors open at the Small Business Development Center in Snohomish County show it to be a resource worth keeping.

For 34 years the center has assisted local businesses and entrepreneurs with technical support, development, and consultations at no cost, but nearly closed last year due to a lack of funding. Resources have been pulled together to keep it open in the near term and efforts are underway to put it on solid financial ground into the future, as reported by the Herald Business Journal.

This comes as WSU is pursuing a $1 million ask to expand Small Business Development Center service in areas of highest need — Olympia, South Seattle, Vancouver, the Bellevue/Redmond/Issaquah area and the Klickitat/Skamania county region.

WSU is operating 25 such centers across the state in partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration. Advisors provide confidential, objective, and tailored guidance at no cost to small business owners and nascent entrepreneurs.

In 2014, SBDC advisors met with over 2,700 clients to deliver customized business advising which resulted in 1,127 jobs and helped secure $41 million in new capital to grow businesses. Go to for more information.

Late WSU President Elson Floyd honored during Governor’s State of the State Address

Governor Inslee honored the life of the late WSU President Elson Floyd during his State of the State Address Tuesday, speaking of Dr. Floyd’s key role in shaping his administration and also how he considered Dr. Floyd to be one of his “most-trusted advisers.”

President Floyd’s widow, Carmento Floyd, was also in attendance as the governor and a joint session of the Legislature recognized her for her contributions to education in Washington

“I know we all miss him,” Governor Inslee said of the Dr. Floyd, “But his legacy will live on in our state’s second medical school.”

You can view the entire State of the State Address below.
(Governor Inslee’s words about Dr. Floyd begin at 05:15)

WSU unveils 2016 legislative agenda

Washington State University’s 2016 legislative agenda, found here, is appropriately modest heading into this year’s 60-day supplemental session.

Gavels fall at noon Monday for a session scheduled to adjourn March 10. The Legislature is tasked, in part, with making mid-term adjustments to the two year budget it approved in July.

The university’s four point agenda includes its two supplemental operating budget requests — $832,000 to establish an academic program and associated research to support Western Washington agriculture and $1 million to expand its network of Small Business Development Centers.

It also includes a call to preserve investments to enhance college affordability and approve new legislation providing regulatory relief for universities.

Everett Herald backs WSU plan for Western Washington ag

The Everett Herald this week editorialized in support of WSU’s supplemental operating budget request for $832,000 to develop academic programming to support agriculture in Western Washington. You can read the editorial here.

If funded, the program would be centered at WSU North Puget Sound at Everett, though some instruction would also be available at WSU research and extension centers in Mount Vernon and Puyallup. The expansion would in the near term offer degrees in agriculture, organic agriculture, and food security. In the out years, degrees would be offered in urban horticulture and food systems.

The editorial stressed that now is the time for action to be taken as the demand for healthy food continues to grow across the nation and as consumers take an interest in looking to local farms to produce viable and healthy crops.

The 2016 legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 11.

Senate Higher Education Committee briefed on WSU medical school

Dr. John Tomkowiak, Founding Dean of the WSU Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, told members of the Senate Higher Education Committee on Thursday that the state’s next medical school is being developed “on Elson time.”

The college is preparing to submit a 700 page accreditation document by Dec. 1. Affiliation agreements have been signed with hospitals in Spokane, Tri-Cities, Vancouver and Everett. And private dollars to support the medical school are being raised.

A site visit could occur next year and preliminary accreditation could be granted as soon as October, allowing the school to recruit students. That would allow an inaugural class to be seated as soon as fall, 2017, Tomkowiak said.

Tomkowiak also touched on how WSU already has many amenities in place, including facilities and health sciences infrastructure with academic disciplines in nursing and pharmacy. Key leaders are being hired, including Tomkowiak, who has been on the job for fewer than four weeks.

The Spokesman-Review published an article today covering these and other details on the hearing. You can read the full article here.

You can also listen to the audio from the Senate Committee hearing below:

House Higher Education Committee Tours WSU Tri-Cities

WSUTC_01Six members of the House Higher Education Committee visited the WSU Tri-Cities campus on Tuesday to learn about the University’s academic programs and research at the urban campus in Richland.

Students thanked the delegation for their efforts to support college affordability, faculty expressed their appreciation for state supported research, and administrators thanked legislators for the $400,000 tucked into the capital budget to fund the pre-design of a new academic building.

The delegation got a first-hand look at the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory (BSEL), a collaboration between WSU and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. The two institutions jointly operate the lab to pursue new advances in biofuel research and energy efficiency. WSUTC_02

Legislators also spent time talking to students on the campus about issues and solutions surrounding college affordability, student support services, academic behavioral skills and other priorities.

The committee members concluded their tour with a visit to the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center that opened back in June. The facility is one of the most technologically advanced wine science centers in the world, featuring research labs and classrooms, a Washington wine library, a two-acre vineyard and greenhouses.

WSU breaks ground on Everett academic building


University administrators and legislative leaders broke ground this afternoon on a new academic building at the Everett University Center. The ceremony drew community leaders, educational partners and members of the Legislature, which approved $54.6 million in funding for the expansion during the 2015 legislative session.

The 95,000 square foot building will house classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, and services for students working toward degrees in STEM education fields. Construction is expected to be completed by spring of 2017.

The Seattle Times editorialized in support of the expansion at WSU North Puget Sound at Everett this week, declaring “WSU at Everett is a different animal, foreshadowing a new, innovated era in higher education.”

Colleen Kerr, Vice President for External Affairs and Government Relations. 901 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2900, Seattle, Washington 98164. 509-335-5756. Contact Us.