Eastern WA

Research confirms: Husky pride is alive and well in the 509

Eastern and Western Washington may be separated by mountains, industry and politics—but the Husky spirit is running strong on both sides of the Cascade Curtain.

“I live and work in Spokane. The University opened its Spokane Center in 2015, and I am so grateful. I’ve been to half a dozen events there already. Thank you!”

That’s what we learned from a survey from UW Impact, the UWAA’s legislative advocacy program.

Last October, UW Impact hired a professional polling firm to survey 2,500 alumni about their opinions on the UW and public higher education in Washington. Both Eastern and Western Washington respondents showed strong support of the UW and were united in the desire to make higher education stronger for future generations.

Excellence matters.

One of the biggest takeaways from the survey was that educational excellence matters to all alumni. Both Eastern and Western Washington respondents placed the UW’s high national rankings as the top source of pride, ranking academic quality second. They both also said that “delivering a high-quality educational experience for students” should be the UW’s top goal and want to make sure that the UW is strong for generations to come.

Since the recession, the state has drastically cut university funding, and UW alumni have taken notice. Huskies on both sides of the mountains sent a strong message that they want the state to invest more in public higher education. A majority of alumni statewide want the Legislature to restore University funding to pre-recession levels, including 75 percent of Eastern Washingtonians.

Strong public support is the backbone of a strong public education system. For alumni, funding and educational excellence go hand in hand.

Community matters.

Support of public higher education is only one facet of alumni commitment to the world around them. The UWAA survey revealed Huskies also are active participants in their communities – fifty-six percent regularly volunteer or serve in community leadership positions.

“Having UW represented in Spokane by opening a public office and starting a medical school in Spokane is a very good way for UW to serve the entire state.”

This was especially true of our Eastern Washington respondents, who reported even higher levels of civic involvement. Over two-thirds of alumni in Eastern Washington have served in a leadership position in their community, and half have served as a board member for a nonprofit organization. Our alumni east of the mountains are engaged with their elected officials, too – 91% are frequent voters, over half donate to political campaigns or candidates, and nearly a third are interested or involved in public higher education issues.

Eastern Washington matters.

The UW just announced a partnership with Gonzaga University to expand medical education in Spokane.

The UW has been working to show its commitment to Eastern Washington and the region—with WWAMI, the regional medical education program serving all Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana and Idaho; the opening of the UW Spokane Center, a hub for Spokane-area alumni, students, prospective students, parents and supporters; and the expansion of the UW Spokane Medical School. The UW also just announced a partnership with Gonzaga University, which will enhance and expand medical education and research in Spokane.

This is having a positive effect on the region. The UW Spokane Medical School alone is projected to create 9,000 new jobs and bring $1.6 billion to the area. Graduating students into fields like healthcare is important to our Eastern Washington alumni, who rank investments in high-demand fields among the top priorities for the UW.

The increased UW presence in Spokane is great news for our Eastern Washington alumni, who don’t let distance lessen their passion for the Huskies — 92 percent report positive feelings about the UW, and 76 percent feel informed and connected. One respondent commented, “I live and work in Spokane. The University opened its Spokane Center in 2015, and I am so grateful. I’ve been to half a dozen events there already. Thank you!”

At the UW, students not only earn a degree—they are given the knowledge, tools and values needed to strike out into the world and make it better. That unique Husky spirit is not restricted to one side of the mountains; it spans across our state amongst our alumni community.

“Public education, at its best, creates global citizens who have a positive impact on society,” said Paul Rucker, Executive Director of the UW Alumni Association. “By expanding activities in Eastern Washington, the UW is working to embody that principle—and through their commitment to higher education and civic involvement, Eastern Washington alumni embody that principle. I look forward to deepening ties with our rich Eastern Washington Husky community.”