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WSU Government Relations State Legislative News

The best confirmation hearing you’ll ever see

WSU Student Regent Jansen VanderMeulen appeared before the Senate Higher Education Committee this week as the panel considered recommending confirmation. The encounter was memorable.

VanderMeulen, who has been serving as Student Regent since July, wowed the committee with knowledge of their legislative districts.

Video of Jansen VanderMeulen’s testimony can be viewed below. He appeared on a panel alongside three community college trustees who are also seeking confirmation. The committee quickly voted to recommend all four be confirmed by the full Senate.

WSU medical school achieves milestone in accreditation process

This week marked another breakthrough in the accreditation process for Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine when it received “candidate” status by the Liason Committee on Medical Education, the national accrediting agency for allopathic medical schools in U.S. and Canada.

The agency reviewed the foundational documents WSU submitted back in December and determined them sufficient to warrant advancement. The next step will be for the accrediting body to visit the campus this spring or summer to discuss future plans, evaluate the facilities, and go over any questions or concerns before determining whether to grant WSU a preliminary accreditation status.

Things are moving on schedule since the Legislature authorized WSU to pursue medicine as an academic discipline during last year’s legislative session.

KING 5 chronicles WSU expansion in North Puget Sound

Washington State University was featured in a King 5 news story this week for its work in addressing the state’s growing need for engineers to support aerospace and other industries.

WSU is currently constructing a new building at the Everett University Center on the campus of Everett Community College in an effort to expand its engineering program to accommodate the center’s growing fleet of programs. Last year, the Legislature appropriated $54.6 million to support construction as well as funding in the operating budget to bring new academic programs in software engineering and data analytics. Previous investments by the Legislature allowed WSU to bring programs in mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, integrated communications and hospitality business management.

The new building is part of a broader effort to increase the number of graduates in tech fields coming out of WSU in order to meet the rising demand for engineers within Washington’s aerospace and advanced manufacturing industries.

The building is expected to open in 2017.

Video of the King 5 segment can be viewed below:

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 wsbdc.org 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.