Sorry to have been so unattentive to the blog this week. Much going on that kept me away from the computer. Spent all day Wednesday working with UW and OFM staff on issues related to the new UW Snohomish-Island-Skagit campus. A familiar local firm, NBBJ, has been retained to help manage the site evaluation process, and our internal UW SIS Work Group, chaired by Lee Huntsman and Ana Mari Cauce also met for the first time early Thursday morning. Safe to say that we have now shifted into a higher gear on the UW North campus planning efforts.
During the past two days, the House Higher Education Committee held a performance accountability symposium here on the UW campus. Approximately fifty participants, including legislators, staff, higher education faculty, students and administrators met to discuss the pros and cons of performance agreements, accountability measures, and how to assess quality in higher education.
In addition to committee chair Rep. Deb Wallace (D-Vancouver), other legislators in attendance included Rep. Fred Jarrett (R-Mercer Island), Rep. Helen Sommers (D-Seattle), Rep. Skip Priest (R-Federal Way), Rep. Mike Sells (D-Everett), Rep. Kathy Haigh (D-Shelton), Sen. Derek Kilmer (D-Gig Harbor), Rep. Mary Helen Roberts (D-Edmonds), Rep. Ruth Kagi (D-Lake Forest Park), Rep. Jim Dunn (R-Battle Ground), Rep. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle) and Rep. Glenn Anderson (R-Fall City).
One of the things that caught my eye in the recent state population figures released by the Governor’s budget office was that Tacoma is really gaining on Spokane for status as the state’s second largest city. Both cities have populations just over the 200,000 mark, separated by less than 2,000 residents.
According to the Tacoma News Tribune “inside the editorial page” blog, Tacoma lobbyist Randy Lewis says Spokane cheated and that Tacoma should rightfully be in the number two city slot. Lewis apparently issued a memo pointing out that due to a large annexation in 2005, Spokane’s population is 1,469 residents higher than Tacoma which picked up only three residents through such changes. Take annexation out of the picture and Tacoma surges ahead of Spokane by 1,266 residents by counting only births and in-migration.
Despite the two vs. three controversy, the rest of the top ten cities list shows no significant change. After Seattle, Spokane and Tacoma, the list reads Vancouver, Bellevue, Everett, Spokane Valley, Federal Way, Kent and Yakima.
Just for fun, let’s continue our 2007 session wrap-up tour of PAC 10 schools (we covered Oregon just the other day) with a closer look at Arizona and how UA and ASU fared in the recently enacted Arizona 2007-08 budget.
Spending on public universities in Arizona will increase by $115 million or just shy of 12% (excluding compensation) in the 2007-08 fiscal year. This includes $20 million for university enrollment growth; $35 million for lease purchase payments for research infrastructure; $25 million for biomedicine initiatives including funds to accelerate the design of a new biomedical campus in Phoenix; and $30 million for student and faculty retention initiatives.
Greg Fahey, who handles government relations for the University of Arizona wrote this past Tuesday in his 2007 session summary that the success of UA this past session was due to strong support from legislative supporters in key committee positions and President Robert Shelton who was a visible presence in the state capitol. Like Washington and Oregon, Arizona has a pro-business Democratic governor in Janet Napolitano who put increased funding for ASU and UA at the top of her 2007-08 budget priority list. Napolitano was also helped by a state legislature controlled by moderate Republicans and Democrats who were able to overcome the influence of those members who opposed greater support for higher education.
A report on California schools (UCLA and UC Berkeley) will have to wait. As usual, the fiscal year has already started and Golden State legislators are still wrangling with Governor Schwarzenegger over the $104 billion 2007-08 California state budget.
Washington was not the only northwest state to provide strong budgetary support for its higher education system during the 2007 legislative session. Oregon lawmakers recently wrapped up work on their 2007-09 biennial budget and the Oregon Department of Higher Education (Oregon University System) received a two-year increase of more than 18 percent. This is the largest increase in the higher education operating budget since 1999.
Like Washington, Oregon higher education benefited from a strong initial proposal from Governor Ted Kulongoski in December. That proposal called for a 17.1 percent general fund increase. The Oregon Legislature went beyond the Governor’s recommendations, providing increased support for faculty salaries, enrollment growth, and additional FTE positions to improve faculty/student ratios. Funds were also provided for a package of research investments promoted by the Oregon Innovation Council which includes $9 million for the Oregon Nanoscience and Microtechnologies Institute and its programs on each of the participating campuses.
Governor Kulongoski and Washington Governor Christine Gregoire have known each other for a long time, having both served as their respective state attorney’s general. They are both Democrats and their 2007 legislative success is due in part to Democratic majorities in both the Washington and Oregon state legislatures.
The 2007 population estimates prepared each year by the Office of Financial Management (OFM) were released yesterday and it shows Washington state’s population has surged to about 6.5 million as of April 1 this year. The represents an additional 112,400 residents or 1.8 percent over the previous year.
According to OFM analysts, about two thirds of the growth is from persons moving to Washington, presumably attracted by the state’s strong employment climate. As the most recent state revenue forecast revealed, Washington’s economy is still strong and outperforming the national economy, although the margin of difference is smaller than it was a couple of years ago.
The fastest growing counties in Washington in terms of percentage change since the 2000 Census are Franklin County (37 percent), Clark County (20 percent), Kittitas County (15 percent) and Benton County (14 percent).
Governor Christine Gregoire has announced the appointment of Jody Erickson and Michael Hughes of The Keystone Center as mediators for the State Route 520 bridge replacement project. The appointment of a mediator was called for in Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6099 which was signed into law in May 2007.
The Keystone Center is a Colorado based firm. Mr. Hughes is the vice president and director of the Center for Science and Public Policy at The Keystone Center and has 16 years of experience mediating transportation, land use, air quality and health policy matters. He was the lead mediator for the St. Croix River Crossing in Wisconsin which involved transportation, historic preservation and environmental concerns. Ms. Erickson is a specialist in neutral process design and mediation and facilitation services to resolve technical policy issues. She also participated in the St. Criox River Crossing project.
The SR 520 mediation process begins this week and a final report is due to the Governor and the state legislature in December 2008.
One of the first things I tried to figure out when I was selected for this position three and a half years ago (has it been that long?) was which state elected officials have degrees from the University of Washington? Most all of the other flagship universities around the country keep close track of this information and even sponsor one or two events during the year to celebrate the success of their graduates who are serving as public officials.
The first couple of iterations of this list relied solely on the biographical information provided by legislators and other statewide office holders. While this proved adequate enough as an approximate benchmark, it relied too much information provided by an elected official or their staff and not enough on the ultimate arbiter of official accuracy — the UW registrar’s office.
So, thanks to Karin Yukish of the State Relations staff and Michael Dieterle from UW Development and Alumni Relations, we have now compiled what I believe is a truly accurate list of all state elected officials who hold at least one degree from the UW. You can now find this list in the Spotlight section of the State Relations website.
Couple of things worth mentioning. Three of the nine statewide elected officials are UW alums including the Governor and Attorney General and five of the nine state Supreme Court Justices have UW degrees including Chief Justice Gerry Alexander. You may have read in the paper’s a couple of weeks ago that Justice Bobbe Bridge has announced she is stepping down at the end of this year and Governor Christine Gregoire will name her replacement who will stand for election in November 2008.
In the state legislature, 20 percent of the State Senate and 14 percent of the House of Representatives are UW alumni. The group of 24 legislators includes the Speaker of the House and seven committee chairman. Membership is also overwhelmingly Democratic with Senator Cheryl Pflug and Rep. Gary Alexander the lone Republicans in the legislative group.
We’ll do our best to keep this list up to date because everything is subject to change in the world of politics. In addition to Justice Bridge’s planned departure in January 2008, Senator Jean Berkey could drop off the list by this November since she is running for a seat on the Snohomish County Council. We’ll try and use our considerable powers of persuasion to ensure that their potential successors are UW alums.
Just finished saying so long to ten members of the House Appropriations Committee who visited the Seattle campus today to learn more about some high profile initiatives recently funded in the 2007 legislative session. Committee chair Rep. Helen Sommers (D-Seattle) was joined by Vice Chair Rep. Hans Dunshee (D-Snohomish), Rep. Lynn Kessler (D-Hoquiam), Rep. Skip Priest (R-Federal Way), Rep. Kelli Linville (D-Bellingham), Rep. Jim Dunn (R-Vancouver), Rep. Pat Sullivan (D-Covington), Rep. Sam Hunt (D-Olympia), Rep. Eileen Cody (D-Seattle) and Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Granger) as well as several committee and caucus staff members who made the trip up from the state capital.
Members spent the morning learning about the UW’s new Department of Global Health at a presentation at the Harborview Research and Training Building on First Hill. Department Chair King Holmes provided an overview of the Department’s major efforts and Chris Murray discussed the newly formed Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, a major item included in the University’s 2007-09 operating budget request. Judith Wasserheit, Vice Chair of the Department introduced two students — Amanda Breed from Nursing and Ashok Reddy from Medicine — who talked about the importance of global health in their academic programs.
The group headed back to the Seattle campus for lunch in the Gates Commons where they were greeted by Dr. Ed Lazowska from UW Computer Science and Engineering who gave a short presentation on the importance of producing more baccalaureate degrees, particularly in the field of computer science. President Emeritus Lee Huntsman provided the group with an update on planning for a new UW campus in the Snohomish, Island and Skagit county region, a major initiative funded in the biennial capital budget.
The final part of the tour was set aside for a presentation and discussion about the new WWAMI-RIDE initiative in Spokane which was also funded in the 2007-09 biennial operating budget. Tom Norris, Dean for Academic Affairs in the School of Medicine presented the WWAMI expansion plan and School of Dentistry Dean Martha Sommerman and RIDE Director Wendy Mouradian discussed the RIDE program. Allison Porter, a WWAMI medical student talked about the importance of the program to her medical education and how it distinguishes and enhances the kind of education the UW can provide compared to other medical schools in the country.
It’s always a valuable experience for members to be able to visit and learn about the many programs here on campus in a relaxed manner away from the pressures of a legislative session. Many thanks to Nancy Mohamed, Julie Monteith, Margi Wadden, Jackie Der and Karin Yukish for helping with planning, logistics and transportation.
Some disturbing news from the state capital surfaced early this week with the announcement that the Liberty Cafe located on the main floor of the Pritchard Library will close next Friday June 29th. The eatery which serves as a quasi- “town square” during annual legislative sessions apparently can’t make a financial go of things due to a dramatic slowdown in business once legislators leave town.
Now the Liberty Cafe was never going to earn even one Michelin star, but you could get a dependably decent (and sometimes quick) breakfast or sandwich at a reasonable price and the coffee was hot and loaded with caffeine. More importantly, however, there were lots and lots of tables where impromtu meetings could be held, blackberry’s could be monitored and gossip could be spread quickly and anonymously.
No word yet from the Department of General Administration on a potential replacement. In the meantime, the Dome Deli located on the ground floor of the Legislative Building will reopen on July 2.
Today’s Olympian has a story about a new hire at WSU. In an interview with the Associated Press yesterday, President Elson Floyd announced the hiring of John C. Gardner to become WSU’s new Vice President for Economic Development and Extension. Gardner worked with Floyd at the University of Missouri and his job will be focused on helping develop the state’s economy through research that leads to jobs.
In the same interview, Floyd also expressed an interest in growing WSU’s graduate and professional enrollment at the Pullman campus, but did not see a need to signficantly increase the number of undergraduate enrollments.