September 27, 2007

Catching Up

By Randy Hodgins

Sorry to have neglected the blog this past week, but I’ve been on the road a lot and today and tomorrow are legislative assembly meetings in Olympia (more on that later).

First, the bad news.  Spent last weekend in Los Angeles with an old friend from Sacramento days who is a big UCLA fan.  We went to the game in Pasadena and as you must know by now, the Dawgs lost and I ended up buying a very late (and expensive) dinner.  Oh well.  There’s always next year.

Earlier this week, I had a chance to attend the biennial Technology Institute in Leavenworth sponsored by the Technology Alliance who are strong supporters of higher education and the research universities in particular.  Lots of interesting presentations many of which focused on the tremendous challenges facing the state and all higher education institutions as they try and produce more science, technology, engineering and math students, commonly referred to at “STEM” degrees.  UW engineering dean Matt O’Donnell certainly got the group’s attention during the Tuesday morning presentation when he remarked that the UW engineering school could triple or quadruple its current size (at a significant cost I might add) and still not make a major dent in the number of engineering graduates needed in both the private and public sectors.  Clearly, this is an issue that will require a lot of effort from both the K-12 and higher education systems and it will certainly require more financial resources from the state.

Providing more STEM degrees is one of the goals of the new UW North Puget Sound campus.  You may have read in the paper that the number of potential sites has been narrowed even further, and that only four sites in Snohomish county remaining in the running.  Two of these sites are in Everett, one in Marysville and one in Lake Stevens.  I have been also busy this week attending various outreach meetings in the north Puget Sound region updating communities on both the site selection and evaluation process and on the progress of the UW’s academic planning group.  Much work remains as the November 15th deadline for a report to the Governor and legislature looms on the horizon.

The new UW north Puget Sound campus has also been the subject of legislative hearings in Olympia today and tomorrow.  Both the Senate and House higher education committees have asked for Debora Merle from the Governor’s office and yours truly to provide updates on the site selection and academic planning process and I just finished a similar presentation for the House capital budget committee which met this afternoon.  Predictably, most of the questions focused on the sites themselves and the criteria chosen to narrow the field.

The legislature will end their two day assembly tomorrow as political attention will start to focus on the November election and speculation about which well-known Republican might announce their candidacy for Governor in the next several weeks.

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