November 15, 2007

North Sound Campus Reports Released

By Randy Hodgins

This morning, after five months of study, analysis and a lot of public outreach, two reports were released regarding the future of a new UW campus in North Puget Sound.

The first report, was prepared by the University and is the preliminary academic plan for the new campus.  In a nutshell, the plan calls for the establishment of a four year comprehensive UW branch campus by 2025 to serve approximately 5,000 students with a broad array of arts and sciences academic programs as well as a strong concentration of degrees in the so-called “STEM” disciplines (science, technology, engineering and math).  The campus would serve not only residents of the Snohomish, Island and Skagit county areas but it also intended to draw students from throughout the state and northwest region, attracted primarily to obtain four year STEM degrees.  Students attending the campus would also benefit from academic programs that included an “experiential learning” component which will involve working in the community with private or public partners on real world projects tied to their field of study.  The plan also calls for an ambitious K-12 outreach effort because a significant portion of the future demand for the campus will depend on the ability of the University and the state to increase college participation rates, particularly in this geographic area.

The second report, prepared by NBBJ consultants, contains siting options and recommendations for the new campus.  This report evaluates the sites suggested for the new campus and provides a detailed description and analysis of the four final sites in Lake Stevens (Calavero); Marysville (Smokey Point) and Everett (Pacific Station and Riverside).  The report concludes that the Everett Pacific Station site is the most preferable given that it leverages the region’s existing urban infrastructure and current and forecasted employment opportunities, promises the most sustainable campus development strategy in the 21st century and is among the least costly solutions for on and off campus infrastructure improvements.

So, what happens next?  Hopefully, everyone involved in the process of building this new campus will carefully review both of these new reports.  The Governor’s 2008 supplemental budget recommendations (which are due no later than December 20), could contain some funding for the new campus in the form of monies for new programs which might be offered in the Fall of 2008 as well as for the K-16 outreach effort.  It is not yet clear if the Governor will endorse the consultant’s site recommendations.

Ultimately, the final decision on both short and long term funding for the new campus rests with the state legislature.  They are also charged with making the final decision on where the new UW North Sound campus will ultimately be located.  The 2008 legislative session convenes on Monday January 14, 2008.

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