Office of the President

May 3, 2021

State Senators Paull Shin and Al Bauer put education first

Ana Mari Cauce

Last month, our state lost two treasured former state senators, Paull Shin, ’80 and Albert “Al” Bauer, both of whom left a lasting mark on Washington as advocates for higher education. Both were long-serving representatives — Sen. Shin for south Snohomish County and Sen. Bauer for Clark County — and both dedicated much of their political careers to making investments in our state’s students, despite their very different life experiences.

Sen. Shin was born in Korea, and after being orphaned, he was eventually adopted by a U.S. Army officer serving in the Korean War. His adoptive father brought the teenage Shin, whose Korean name was Sin Ho-bŏm, to the United States, where Shin recognized the transformative power of education. He went on to earn degrees from Brigham Young University and the University of Pittsburg before earning his doctorate in Korean history from the University of Washington. The first Korean American elected to the Washington legislature, he led a fundraising effort to secure the future of the UW’s Jackson School Korea Studies Program, which we were proud to rename in his honor in 2014. Over the course of his career, Shin chaired the Senate Higher Education Committee and sponsored legislation to increase instruction about Korea and other Asian nations; he was also a passionate advocate for people with disabilities, immigrants, veterans, trade and economic development.

By contrast, Sen. Bauer was born in Montana and grew up in Washington state, dropping out of high school to work in a cannery. Like Sen. Shin, he recognized his need for more education, getting his GED and enrolling in Clark College before joining the Navy and serving in the Korean War. On his return to the U.S., he finished his undergraduate degree, going on to earn a master’s in education from then Oregon State College. He taught history at Columbia River High School, and as a legislator, he is remembered for the historical lens through which he viewed the world. And like Shin, Bauer worked to create more opportunities for students in Washington. This included establishing a Washington State University campus in Vancouver and sponsoring the Running Start initiative in Washington, enabling hundreds of thousands of high school students to earn college credits.

Sens. Shin and Bauer both shared a passionate commitment to public investment in education and a belief in the public benefit of accessible colleges and universities. As our state’s innovation-driven economy has grown, their wise investments and advocacy for students will be their legacy, for which we are all grateful. Both men are greatly missed, and our thoughts are with their families and loved ones. We must honor their lifetimes of work through our commitment to expanding access and excellence in public higher education in Washington.