Government Relations


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.”

‘WSU enrollment sets record; growth seen on all campuses’

WSU News

Washington State University again experienced record enrollment this fall, registering a total of 29,686 students statewide. The additional 1,000 students represent a 3.5 percent increase from the previous record, set during the fall semester last year.

The enrollment increase occurred across all WSU campuses, with WSU Tri-Cities and the WSU Global campus registering the largest increases, 11.7 percent and 13 percent, respectively.

“Continued growth in our enrollments around the state is testimony to the quality of education WSU is providing,” said Interim President Dan Bernardo. “I am especially pleased that we continue to increase not only in size, but in diversity.”

Undergraduate enrollment increased at WSU Pullman, WSU Tri Cities, WSU Vancouver, WSU Global and WSU North Puget Sound at Everett. Enrollment at WSU Health Sciences Spokane remained steady. The largest growth occurred at WSU Tri-Cities where undergraduate enrollment increased by 161 students, or more than 13 percent, from the previous fall. Graduate student and professional student enrollments grew across all WSU campuses, with total graduate enrollment increasing 8.6 percent and professional enrollment increasing 6.8 percent statewide.

Once again, WSU enrolled the largest incoming freshmen class in its history this semester, recording a total freshman enrollment of 4,727 statewide, an increase of 6.1 percent from the record fall enrollment last year. And, while not a record, transfer student enrollment remained strong at 2,588 across all WSU campuses. WSU Pullman enrolled 4,220 new freshmen and 1,149 new transfers. Elsewhere, WSU Tri-Cities enrolled 177 new freshmen and 210 new transfers; WSU Vancouver enrolled 285 new freshmen and 603 new transfers; WSU Spokane enrolled 78 new transfers: WSU Global enrolled 45 new freshmen and 488 new transfers; and WSU North Puget Sound at Everett enrolled 63 new transfers.

As in recent years, WSU’s fall semester enrollment also grew increasingly diverse, with the percentage of minority students either remaining constant or increasing on every WSU campus. As a percentage of system-wide enrollment, minorities constitute 27.8 percent of overall enrollment, 35.7 percent of new freshmen enrollment, 27.7 percent of new transfer enrollment, and 17.1 percent of new graduate enrollment.

The enrollment data also show WSU is continuing to attract a large number of first generation students, who represented 41.1 percent of entering freshmen and 45.1 percent of entering transfer students.

As in years past, WSU continues primarily to serve in-state students; 85.5 percent of all current WSU undergraduate students reside in Washington.

On the Hill:

The first week back after recess is well underway. Summer has come to an abrupt end and Congress is gearing up for a busy fall. Congress is back and faced with only a hand full of days before the end of the fiscal year, the upcoming days will be packed with negotiations and bumps in the road as both sides of the aisle work to ensure that the government does not shut down. Despite only having a limited amount of time to prevent another shutdown, consensus is that both Democrat and Republican leadership are committed to avoiding a shut down once again.


Nevertheless, things are in full swing as appropriation bills are in Congress awaiting action, federal spending limits wait to be agreed on and a continuing resolution is hopefully waiting on the horizon.

Fall priorities for this Congress will include a continued battle over the Iran Deal, a tug of war over the FY 2016 budget, and many programs that will sunset at the end of the calendar year if Congress does not act.

Yesterday Presidential hopefuls Senator Ted Cruz and front Runner Donald Trump participated in a rally on the steps of the United States Capitol organized by the Tea Party wing of the Republican Party. Opposing the Iran Deal and denouncing it as a loss for America, the presidential hopefuls were joined by former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin and others. For more on the story and to here what other presidential candidates had to say, follow this link.

It will be interesting to see how or if the energy from this rally impacts the political will of Congress to move forward on any compromised piece of legislation.

Washington State University Continues to Celebrate 125 Years of Service

Washington State University continues to invest in groundbreaking research that enhances the quality of life for Washingtonians. Click here to see how WSU is shaping the future through providing clean and dependable energy solutions for the Pacific Northwest and the nation.

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WSU to live stream President Floyd memorial

Live video of today’s university wide celebration of life of President Elson S. Floyd will be available via live stream when the event begins. The live link can be found here.

The event is scheduled to begin promptly at 3:00pm in Beasley Coliseum on the Pullman campus and is scheduled to run until 5:00pm. It will be viewable on the web, at Martin Stadium and in the Compton Union Building Auditorium.

Floyd passed away on June 20 after many faculty, students and staff had departed for the summer. The event was scheduled to enable the entire university community to participate.

Legislature adjourns banner session for WSU

The State Legislature adjourned Friday, closing out a legislative session for the history books at WSU after reaching final agreement on operating and capital budgets for the next two years.

Operating budget appropriations fully fund a historic phased in tuition reduction of 15 percent for in-state undergraduate students at WSU by fall 2016. The budget also provides funding to support the development of a new community based medical school at WSU’s health sciences campus in Spokane, and funds new software engineering and data analytics programs at the Everett University Center. You can read more about the operating budget here.

The enacted capital budget funds WSU’s top priorities to build an Academic Building at the Everett University Center and to design the Plant Sciences Building on the Pullman campus. It also provides funding to renovate historic Troy Hall in Pullman and predesign funding for a new Academic Building at WSU Tri-Cities. Learn more about the capital budget here.

Receiving an uncommonly high number of bipartisan sponsors in both the House and the Senate for legislation to amend a nearly 100-year-old law that limited medical education to the University of Washington, the Legislature approved legislation authorizing WSU to establish, operate and maintain a separately accredited school of medicine. It was a truly historic event that the university and the state of Washington celebrated.

Other policy measures approved this session include legislation authorizing minors to taste but not consume alcohol for educational purposes, primarily in viticulture and enology programs. Also approved was legislation to establish a research collaborative that WSU will lead around rare earth materials, and legislation to study and implement best practices to address sexual assault and violence on college campuses.

By any measure, this was an extraordinary session – and year – for the university that celebrated its 125th birthday as well as the 25th anniversary of its branch campuses. After three special sessions, lawmakers passed budgets that demonstrate strong support for WSU and higher education, continuing what late President Dr. Elson Floyd proclaimed to be one of the best years in the history of the university.

Lawmakers and Gov. Inslee honored and recognized President Floyd’s leadership this session and throughout his lifetime, a legacy that the university will carry forward as it implements the outcomes of this banner year for WSU.

Capital budget funds WSU top priorities

A two-year construction budget agreement reached by the Legislature funds WSU’s top capital priorities to build an Academic Building at the Everett University Center and to design the Plant Sciences Building on the Pullman campus.

The agreement, embodied in House Bill 1115, passed the House with a vote of 96-2 and the Senate with a vote of 44-1.

The $54.6 million provided for the WSU Academic Building at the Everett University Center allows the university to begin construction of the facility and address the Center’s need to house current and projected degree programs by WSU and its partner institutions.

Full funding for WSU’s $6.6 million request to design the Plant Sciences Building on the Pullman campus will continue progress toward the research and education complex of interconnected facilities that support interdisciplinary collaboration among the institution’s leading scientists. The project also would provide modern lab space for university researchers in horticulture, plant pathology, plant biochemistry and crop and soil sciences.

The budget also provides $30.3 million to renovate historic Troy Hall in Pullman and $400,000 for predesign of a new Academic Building at WSU Tri-Cities.

The Legislature yesterday approved a compromise operating budget for the next two years. Gov. Inslee signed both budget bills late Tuesday night.

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