August 23, 2007

UW North Puget Sound Update

By Randy Hodgins

Been back from vacation for less than a week an already it seems like a distant memory.  Have been on the road much of this week visiting elected officials and other stakeholders in the Snohomish, Island and Skagit county areas discussing progress on planning for the new UW campus called for in the 2007-09 capital budget.

As you may know, the UW has formed an academic planning group headed by Lee Huntsman and Ana Mari Cauce to develop a preliminary academic master plan for the new campus.  That group has met several times and is well underway to putting together a campus design that is intended to offer a range of interdisciplinary arts and sciences degrees as well as a concentration of some offerings in the science, technology, engineering and math — the so-called “STEM” disciplines.  Also under active consideration is the notion of developing a strong “experiential learning” component for the campus that would have students working directly with local businesses, non-profit agencies and the like to provide real world experiences as part of a student’s academic requirements.

The general outline of this “working vision” of the UW North Puget Sound campus has been very well received in the Snohomish, Island and Skagit communities.  As you can imagine, though, most of the interest has been on the site selection process being managed by our consultants NBBJ.  A total of 73 campus sites were submitted to NBBJ in July ranging from less than one acre to more than 1,000 and covering the breadth of the three county region.  Shortly, that list will get paired down to a smaller working group of sites based on criteria related to the requirements of the preliminary academic plan, transportation access and other site accessibility factors.

The goal is to continue to evaluate and refine the list of sites in order to meet a November 15 reporting deadline to the Governor and Legislature that must include a draft academic master plan as well as three site recommendations for placement of the campus.

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