Legislature Debates New UW North Sound Campus

As the Washington State Legislature works on the state’s supplemental budget this month, lawmakers are debating a proposal for a new UW North Sound campus.

Legislators are writing a supplemental budget that will carry the state to the end of its budget cycle. While the state has a $1.4 billion budget surplus, Gov. Chris Gregorie, ’69, ’71, wants to set aside about $1.2 billion in reserves.

Last year the state asked the UW to plan for a new regional campus in the north Puget Sound area. Currently Snohomish County is the most populous county in the nation without a public, four-year college or university.

Consultants hired by the state recommended a site in downtown Everett anchored by the Pacific Station transit hub. The location is best for integrating the academic program with educational opportunities at local businesses and non-profit agencies, the consultants said, and urban infrastructure—including transit—is already in place. The UW supports those recommendations, says State Relations Director Randy Hodgins, ’79, ’83. However, groups from northern Snohomish County and Skagit County are pushing for a 369-acre campus near Marysville at Smokey Point.

“This does not mean that the Marysville/Smokey Point site would not work,” says Hodgins. “They are both good, but based on the consultant’s report, one is a little better than the other.”

UW North Sound would help boost the number of college graduates in the state and would focus on technical and engineering programs as well as a liberal arts degree.

However, there is a hefty price tag. It would cost $600–800 million to meet a goal of 5,000 students over the next 25 years and provide for a strong core of academic offerings in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). President Mark A. Emmert, ’75, UW regents and other officials have said that funds for the UW’s three campuses should not be compromised by building a fourth.

In her budget request, Gov. Gregoire asked for $1.1 million to start two small programs in nursing and teacher education at UW North Sound this fall. Classes would be held in Everett and administered by UW Bothell faculty.

On Jan. 29, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education shifted the governor’s North Sound funding to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. The funds would expand enrollment growth in two-year partnerships with other four-year institutions in the Snohomish, Island and Skagit county areas. The funds would also be used for outreach and marketing to other two year and public schools in the region.

Those recommendations now go to the full House budget-writing committee led by Rep. Helen Sommers, D-Seattle. Her vice chair is Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, a strong advocate for a UW campus in Everett.

For more information on the UW and the state budget, visit the UW's Office of State Relations Web site.

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