August 22, 2008

State Higher Education News

By Randy Hodgins

The Bellingham Herald reported this week that Western Washington University’s waterfront development plans took another step forward when the Port of Bellingham approved an agreement to partner with the school to create an independent development entity to develop a key portion of the city’s waterfront.  Dubbed the “Viking Development,” the move permits the Port to sell or lease at fair-market value 10 to 16 acres of downtown waterfront property to Western.  University officials have said that they will use the property to build a new home for the Huxley College of the Environment and is also considering using some of the space to house the College of Business and Economics and the Northwest Consortium for Technological Innovations.

The Kitsap Sun reported last Sunday that one of the options emerging for providing additional baccalaureate education in the Bremerton and greater Kitsap County area is to use existing infrastructure in the area (office buildings, transit centers, etc.) and allow multiple higher education partners to offer degree programs.  Higher Education Coordinating Board consultant Bill Chance (who is conducting the study with funds provided in the 2008 supplemental budget) states that the Roanoke Higher Education Center in Virginia uses a former Norfolk Southern Railway building and that six public and eight private colleges and universities offer degree programs there.  Olympic College President David Mitchell is quoted in the story as preferring the model used in Washington State where a new building is constructed on a two-year college campus with a four-year institutional partner providing baccalaureate education, such as Highline Community College’s long standing partnership with Central Washington University.

The Senate Higher Education Committee will hold a work session on Thursday September 4 as part of the Washington State Senate Assembly days in Vancouver, Washington September 3-5 at the Vancouver Hilton and Convention Center.  Topics at the hearing include the availability of student loans, utilization of tuition waivers, customized training programs and higher education and economic development.  The hearing is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m.

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