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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine receives preliminary accreditation

Washington State University’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine received preliminary accreditation today, completing a major milestone that will keep the university on track to enroll its inaugural class of students in August 2017.

The announcement was made by founding dean, John Tomkowiak during a news conference earlier today, in which the dean noted the impact this step will have in educating future physicians for underserved regions across Washington. The dean also thanked legislative members, community leaders across the state, and the late WSU President Elson S. Floyd for all of their work in getting the college to reach this point.

The accreditation comes 19 months after lawmakers passed legislation in April 2015 allowing the university to pursue medicine as an academic discipline. The university continues to move on schedule through the accreditation process. The next step will be membership approval from the American Association of Medical Colleges.

You can watch Dean Tomkowiak’s announcement below:

WSU submits budget requests for 2017-19 biennium

Washington State University recently submitted its operating and capital budget requests to the state’s budget office for the upcoming 2017-19 biennium, prioritizing support for the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine and capital requests to promote food safety and food security.

In the operating budget, WSU seeks $10.8 million in funding from the Legislature to support the implementation of the medical education program at the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine. Receipt of preliminary accreditation in October 2016 would allow the college to begin accepting its first class of 60 students for the fall of 2017. This is the university’s next step in its continuing commitment to address Washington’s critical shortage of primary care physicians and the uneven distribution of physicians across the state.

The university’s top capital budget priority is to secure $58.9 million to construct the Plant Sciences Building and $38.1 million to construct the Global Animal Health Building Phase II facility, both in Pullman. Washington’s agriculture industries are challenged by evolving diseases and pests, unpredictable weather patterns, and ever-changing state, national, and international markets. Research at WSU plays a key role in developing new agricultural products to enhance competitiveness and to guard against these threats to protect crop, animal and human health. To do this critical work, the university needs modern facilities capable of state-of-the-art research and student training.

Additionally for the operating budget, WSU requests $37 million for merit-based retention and compensation increases of four percent in both years of the biennium to ease a chronic recruitment and retention problem among the university’s faculty and staff; and requests $5 million to expand capacity for high-demand engineering instruction at WSU locations in Vancouver and Everett, deliver new Bremerton-based engineering electives to support the maritime industry, and establish a new Center for Engineering and Science in Advanced Manufacturing Materials to meet the workforce needs of industries critical to the Washington state economy.

The first day of the regular 105-day state legislative session is scheduled for Monday, January 9 in Olympia.

WSU Professor Carolyn Long awarded Distinguished Professorship

Three of Washington’s Secretaries of State joined together recently to award WSU Professor Carolyn Long the inaugural Sam Reed Distinguished Professorship in Civic Education and Public Civility. The ceremony was conducted in the current Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office and was attended by former Secretaries of State Ralph Munro and Sam Reed.

Reed, a WSU alum, served 12 years as Secretary of State, using his tenure to encourage younger generations to engage in political involvement. In honor of his commitment, WSU created the Sam Reed Distinguished Professorship award to support research and teaching efforts that advance civility, moderation and bipartisanship in politics.

Long is a political science professor at WSU’s Vancouver campus and has an extensive history of research within the field of civics. Long will receive $12,000 in funding to continue her work in civility and says she intends to use this professorship towards the expansion of her work on the Initiative for Public Deliberation.

You can read more about the ceremony on the Secretary of State’s blog and watch video of the ceremony below.

WSDOT, WSU to host online forum, discuss US 195 and SR 26

The Washington State Department of Transportation and Washington State University will jointly host an interactive town-hall meeting over YouTube on Tuesday in an effort to address public concerns about U.S. Highway 195 and State Route 26 near Pullman. A panel that includes representatives from WSDOT, WSU and the Washington State Patrol will discuss safety concerns and provide updates on improvement efforts being made to both highways.

The April 5 forum will start at 6:00 p.m. and is open to the public. Participants will be able to livestream the video footage online and submit questions for the panel to address.

Details on how to view the forum and submit remarks can be found here.

Budget agreement funds Western Washington ag program, tuition cut

The operating budget agreement unveiled by the Legislature late Monday adds funding for WSU to address an array of priorities.

Most notably, the budget provides just over $2 million to further backfill tuition cuts by accounting for enrollment growth occurring during the course of the current two year budget cycle.

It also provides $580,000 to develop an academic program in agriculture to be centered at WSU North Puget Sound at Everett with border-to-border utility for the industry in Western Washington.

Another $250,000 is provided in the Department of Social and Health Services budget to contract with WSU to support research on the development of a marijuana breathalyzer.

Finally, $135,000 is provided to bolster WSU research to support healthy honey bee colonies.

Lawmakers also have announced an agreement on a supplemental capital budget that bolsters funding for WSU work to assess the condition of public schools in Washington and $75,000 to support university research relating to cross laminated timber.

Both budgets could be approved by the House and Senate as soon as today as the Legislature wraps up its 2016 session.

Senate budget backfills tuition cuts

The operating budget proposal released Wednesday would add state appropriation to backfill tuition cuts and one time money to conduct research on developing marijuana breathalyzer technology.

The Legislature last year approved legislation cutting tuition at WSU by 5 percent this academic year and by another 10 percent for the academic year starting in August. To compensate, it provided the university with state appropriation, effectively reversing recession-era trends of dramatically cutting appropriation and increasing tuition.

This year’s Senate proposal provides an additional $2 million in backfill to account for enrollment growth over the course of the current two year budget cycle that runs through June, 2017.

It also provides $250,000 in one time funds to aid the university’s research efforts to develop a hand held device that could be used by law enforcement to determine if drivers are under the influence of marijuana.

The House budget released Monday would fund neither but would partially fund WSU’s request to establish as Western Washington agriculture program. Once both chambers approve their budgets, negotiators will work to develop a compromise to send to the governor in time to adjourn as scheduled on March 10.

House budget funds Western Washington agriculture program

The supplemental budget proposal introduced in the State House of Representatives today provides $580,000 for WSU to establish an agriculture program in Western Washington.

The organic agriculture program would be centered at the Everett University Center but would leverage the university’s Extension resources as well. WSU requested $832,000 to bring the program to Everett alongside a degree in Agriculture and Food Security. With resources being tight, House budget writers chose to focus on the organic program.

The university expressed its appreciation in testimony below. The Senate budget could be unveiled as soon as this week before a compromise plan is negotiated and sent to the governor ahead of the scheduled March 10 adjournment.

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.

Revenue forecast dips for first time in two years

The state’s Economic and Revenue Forecast Council lowered state revenue projections Wednesday for the first time in two years. You can find the press release from the state budget office here.

While not projecting a recession, the new forecast for the current 2015-17 budget cycle and the ensuing 2017-19 budget cycle projects slower growth. Contributing factors include a slowing global economy, a stronger dollar hampering exports, and low oil prices.

Combined with a new forecast of demand for state services, the net change for the current biennium is virtually flat. But the revenue forecast for the following biennium is down $436 million to $40.9 billion. Though still above the $37.8 billion anticipated for the current biennium, the projected decline in growth increases challenges state budget writers are expected to face next year as they try to maintain existing services, address legal pressures for new spending on education as well as make needed investments in other areas, including higher education.

The Legislature will use this forecast to draft the re-write of last year’s two year budget that it will send to the governor this spring. The House expects to release its proposal on Monday.

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.