Last Tuesday, February 20, alumni from all six of Washington’s baccalaureate institutions along with their Presidents and governing boards met in Olympia for the 2007 Higher Education Day and the timing could not have been better.
The planning for this year’s event was very strategic and focused on bringing a united voice of support for the Governor’s Washington Learns Initiative and increased funding for higher education tied to other similar institutions in the Governor’s “Global Challenge States.” With the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Education poised to release a draft budget for higher education, having UW alums meeting on-one-on with their own elected officials and reinforcing these principles was a dream come true for the University’s state relations team.
The day began with a legislative briefing conducted by President Mark Emmert and myself, giving alums an overview of the session and key speaking points that everyone could use when they met with their legislators in the afternoon. Immediately following the briefing, a luncheon was held at the Indian Summer Golf and Country Club where Governor Gregoire presented the Robert G. Waldo Award for outstanding contribution to public higher education to former Governor Booth Gardner. David Horsey, the two-time Pulitzer Prize winning cartoonist for the Seattle P-I gave the keynote address.
After lunch, all higher education alums moved to the state capitol campus for a busy afternoon of meetings with legislators and catching portions of the many committee meetings that were happening. Mascots from all six schools were visible around the campus and in many buildings, mixing with lobbyists, staffers, visiting school children and even attending the six presidents media availability in the State Reception Room. The day ended with a wonderful reception in the Governor’s Mansion hosted by the Governor and her husband Mike Gregoire.
I would like to take this opportunity to express my heartfelt thanks to all who took time out of their busy schedules to come to Olympia and advocate for more funding for higher education and the UW in particular. Also, kudos to the super staff at the UW Alumni Association and the Office of State Relations who worked tirelessly over the past year to pull this successful event together.