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WSU Government Relations Newsbeat

WSU testifies on Senate operating budget

Washington State University was back on the hill this week to testify at the Ways & Means hearing of the Senate’s proposed operating budget, SB 5048, which was released early Tuesday afternoon. WSU issued their support for funding in the bill that would bolster STEM degree production, but asked that the Senate take into consideration their top legislative priority: the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

The legislature partially funded $5 million of the $10.8 million funding request to support the charter class of sixty Washington students beginning their medical school training on August 17th.

You can view WSU’s testimony in the hearing below.

What the Senate budget means for WSU

Leaders in the state Senate unveiled an operating budget proposal Tuesday that would increase funding for STEM enrollments, but only partially fund WSU’s request to support the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

At a high level, the proposal would do the following.

  • Provide $5 million to support the medical school. WSU has requested $10.8 million for the 2017-19 biennium to support 60 first year and 60 second year students.
  • Provide $7.2 million for new enrollments, with 70 percent of them required to be in STEM disciplines. WSU had requested $5 million to support new engineering enrollments in Vancouver and Everett.
  • Provide compensation increases for state employees at $500 per year for each year of the biennium.
  • Fund legislation establishing a research program to study Elk Hoof Disease and legislation enhancing mental health services for students who are veterans.
  • Suspend marijuana research funding directed by Initiative 502.
  • Enact a $3.2 million cut assuming a 1 percent reduction in tuition waivers.

Other finer details are still being studied. The budget is being heard at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Senate Ways and Means Committee. The House is expected to release its operating budget proposal soon. Negotiators will ultimately reach a compromise to send to the governor.

For questions, please email Chris Mulick at

WSU backs open educational resources legislation

WSU has made significant strides in the past year to expand awareness and implementation of open educational resources in the classroom, and it continued to do so by issuing its support of HB 1561 – a bill designed to increase the use of these resources at four-year higher education institutions. The bill was heard in the Senate on Thursday.

The university has already invested $22,000 towards adoption of open educational resources in the classroom in Pullman and has been most progressive at its Vancouver campus, with half of 100 level math courses already incorporating OER.  If funded, the bill would set aside funds that would be used for grants that could fund efforts to further integrate low cost or no cost open educational resources into specific classes.

The university testified in support of the bill back in January when it was heard before the House Higher Education committee. The bill later passed through the house with a vote of 64-34.

You can view Thursday’s testimony below.

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Senate hears branch campus bill

WSU issued its full support behind legislation that would remove the term “branch” from “branch campus” in state law during Thursday’s Senate Higher Education committee hearing.

HB 1107 aims to remove the term “branch” as an identifying factor for extension campuses. WSU testified in support of the bill before the House Higher Education committee back on January 17th before the bill passed through the House with a vote of 91-6.

The university, known to be “one university geographically dispersed”, has removed the term from its lexicon over the past two years anyway. You can watch video of WSU’s testimony below.

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Committee presentation highlights industry collaborations

The Senate Higher Education Committee on Thursday held a work session to discuss high demand degree programs and industry collaboration in preparing students for the workforce by the public four-year higher education sector.

Paul Francis, executive director for the Council of Presidents, presented on behalf of the sector and noted that enrollment by the public four-year’s undergraduate students in high employer demand programs of study increased dramatically from the 2007-08 academic year to 2014-15. Supporting this growth are partnerships with industry leaders, experiential learning and internship opportunities, and collaborations with the K-12 sector to cultivate student interest in high demand fields.

Illustrative examples of WSU’s work in this space highlighted by Francis include the Imagine Tomorrow competition, the Boeing Scholars Program, capital facilities funded through industry partnerships to support high demand areas, and health sciences training to help meet the demand for nurses and physicians in underserved areas of Washington state.

Check out the WSU component of the presentation to the committee below. The Council of Presidents is an association of the state’s six public baccalaureate degree granting college and universities.

College of Medicine receives NCCU accreditation

Washington State University’s College of Medicine passed another milestone this week by receiving accreditation from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities. The college obtained approval from the commission to offer a Doctor of Medicine to medical students beginning their coursework in August.

The college in October gained accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education, which allowed it to begin recruiting students. More than 700 students applied during a one month recruiting window and about 340 are being interviewed to identify the 60 that will make up the inaugural class that will be seated in August.

WSU’s top priority this legislative session is a request for $10.8 million in the 2017-19 operating budget to support 60 first-year and 60 second-year medical students.

Students from all campuses attend Coug Day at the Capitol

About 160 WSU students swarmed Olympia today pressing the cause of higher education during the annual Coug Day at the Capitol event.

Organized by the Associated Students of Washington State University, the delegation included students from all WSU campuses — including the Global Campus — speaking with one voice. Of those who participated, fewer than half were from the Pullman campus. Also participating was a delegation of graduate students.

After a morning briefing, students met with legislators throughout the day to discuss issues surrounding higher education. They finished the day with a brief address from Federal Way Rep. Kristine Reeves, a WSU alum who then led the group in the singing of the university fight song in the rotunda of the Legislative Building.

TVW interviews Med School Dean

Dr. John Tomkowiak, inaugural Dean of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, was interviewed on Inside Olympia this week to discuss the development of the state’s second publicly funded medical school. The dean spoke with TVW about the selection process the college is using to find the right 60 students from among the 700 applications the college received and how the University plans to address the shortage of doctors in rural and underserved urban areas of Washington.

The dean’s interview can be viewed below.

WSU report on Cross-Laminated Timber heard in Capital Budget committee

Washington State University professor Dan Dolan spoke before the House Capital Budget committee last week to discuss results of a report he and his team drafted on the current status and barriers to using cross-laminated timber (CLT) for construction. Dolan’s report includes details on where CLT is currently being utilized across North America, how CLT products can be used within Washington in accordance with current building codes, and what the Legislature can do to assist the designing and implementation process.

View professor Dolan’s full report in the video below:

Senate updated on Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Dr. Ken Roberts, Vice Dean for Academic and Community Partnerships, provided a status update on the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine to the Senate Higher Education committee Tuesday.

In October, the college received preliminary accreditation status, giving the University permission to begin the student recruiting process. In the narrow month-long admissions window, the College received over 700 applications. Of those 700, 340 interviews have been planned for the 60 spots in the College’s inaugural class.

Dr. Roberts update goes over next steps in the process, including an outline on the first and second year teaching curriculum and how the College is modeling its program towards the overarching goal of expanding healthcare options in underserved areas of the state and producing physicians who will serve in rural regions.

Video of Dr. Roberts’ testimony can be viewed below.