Governor Chris Gregoire told nearly 150 community leaders, students, faculty, staff and others at WSU Vancouver Thursday that the branch campus and university at large are keys to the state’s economic recovery.

On campus to tour the Engineering and Computer Science Building –scheduled to open in January 2012 – Gregoire hailed the university’s increasing commitment to producing engineering degrees, its collaboration with Clark College and noted that it could be tempting to take WSU Vancouver for granted.

“It hasn’t been here that long and now it’s part of the heart of the community,” Gregoire said.

In recapping the recently completed legislative session, Gregoire recounted deep cuts made to higher education and explained how students and families will be asked to help keep institutions whole through tuition rates that, while higher, will still lag behind schools in comparable states.

“This great institution cannot continue to absorb the cuts,” the governor said.

She said the community and its developing high tech economy is situated well to rebound from the recession “but without WSU Vancouver I don’t think it would be what it is today or what it can be tomorrow.”