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November 13, 1997

State colleges and universities unite to propose higher education endowment

All 38 of Washington’s public colleges and universities have proposed that the state establish a $500 million public-private partnership to enhance the quality of higher education in Washington.

The proposed Endowment for Higher Education would match $250 million in state funds with an equal amount to be raised through private donations to create permanent endowments in perpetuity at each institution, from which only earnings would be spent. The funds would be used to improve the quality of higher education programs in Washington by supporting undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships, distinguished professorships, library resources, equipment, faculty teaching awards, innovative approaches to faculty development, and initiatives for curriculum development and service delivery.

The proposal has been endorsed by all 32 presidents of the state’s community and technical colleges and by all six presidents of Washington’s public four-year institutions.

“We are at a turning point for higher education in Washington,” said Samuel H. Smith, president of Washington State University. “We have a robust state economy and the opportunity to determine what kinds of investments are most likely to secure a bright future for the citizens of our state. We believe the state can make no better investment than one which develops our state’s people.”

“The Endowment for Higher Education is an investment in our future,” said UW president Richard L. McCormick. “We have the ability through a creative public-private partnership to help ensure high quality educational opportunities for the citizens of this state, their children and future generations. What better legacy can we leave than to provide the educational margin of excellence to help this state remain competitive in the future?”

Earl Hale, executive director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, said, “This proposal gives the state an opportunity to make a significant investment in higher education and create a major incentive for us to seek out more private-sector partners. These funds would help two-year colleges improve the quality of education and job training in communities all over the state.”

Karen Morse, president of Western Washington University, said, “We believe the idea of a state match will be attractive to many private donors who want to help improve the quality of higher education in this state. This program will supplement but not supplant current fundraising efforts in higher education.”

The proposed endowment would be created by a state appropriation of $250 million. Each institution would be eligible for a defined share of the state appropriation, but funds would be released to institutions only when they had raised the necessary private matching donations. Institutions would have five years from the establishment of the state portion of the endowment to raise the private matching money.

Higher education leaders emphasized that establishing the endowment can be done with a one-time state expenditure. Once created, the initial endowment fund would not require any ongoing state appropriation but could be augmented over time. <!—at end of each paragraph insert

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