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News and Updates

Legislators join groundbreaking celebration for the UW’s Interdisciplinary Engineering Building

Last week, legislators and local business leaders joined the UW community for the groundbreaking of the Interdisciplinary Engineering Building (IEB). Opening in mid-2024, the 70,000-square-foot building will promote project-based learning and provide a direct link to industry to the 7,000 students it will serve. It will also house student support services and organizations, creating a one-stop-shop for UW engineering students.

Designed with student input, the IEB will prioritize collaboration, inclusivity, and adaptability. It will also help further the College of Engineering’s mission to develop and support a diverse student body and faculty where all members thrive. Joining the celebration, House College & Workforce Development Chair Vandana Slatter emphasized that students from every walk of life will have a home at the IEB where they will prepare for tomorrow’s engineering careers. She also praised the College of Engineering’s world-class educators and spoke about how the new building will better support their important teaching and research missions.

The IEB was funded by public and private dollars to improve pathways to engineering degrees and jobs for Washington residents, further cutting-edge research, and fuel economic growth. Instrumental in securing public funds for the building, House and Senate Capital Budget Chairs Steve Tharinger and David Frockt, were also in attendance and spoke about the vital role the IEB will play in helping the state develop much-needed local engineering talent.

Thank you, Sen. Frockt and Reps. Tharinger and Slatter, for attending the groundbreaking and for your support of the IEB!

Left to right: Sen. David Frockt, Dubs, Rep. Steve Tharinger, Liban Hussein (student), Rep. Vandana Slatter, UW President Ana Mari Cauce, CoE Dean Nancy Allbritton, and Aisha Cora (student).

Chehalis legislators engage with students at UW-hosted STEM camp

In partnership with the Chehalis School District, the UW hosted a STEM camp at W.F. West High School this week for local high school students focused on engineering and medical science. Senate Minority Leader John Braun and Representatives Peter Abbarno and Ed Orcutt visited the camp to engage with the students and learn from medical doctors and scientists from the Institute for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine. 

The students and legislators explored the physiology and disease of human organs, as well as powerful approaches to health using cutting-edge technology. They participated in hands-on learning activities, including examining a human brain and lungs, inflating pig lungs to simulate breathing, and stimulating nerve activity using a device that allows a person to move another person’s arm.

Earlier in the week, students also learned about the engineering design process with experts from the UW College of Engineering. They worked together in small groups to design and build a lander that protected a raw egg dropped from the bleachers.

The summer camp aims to give Chehalis-area students unique educational experiences and to showcase STEM degree and career pathways.

Thank you, Sen. Braun and Reps. Abbarno and Orcutt, for joining your local students for a packed day of learning. We appreciate your continued support of the UW!

Legislators connect with UW faculty during the Faculty Field Tour

Last week, more than 30 faculty members new to the University and state participated in the Faculty Field Tour, a five-day immersive tour of the state of Washington. The tour highlights the state’s diverse geography, economy, history, and cultures and allows the faculty to see the places their students call home to help them be even better teachers and mentors. It also allows them to meet other new faculty from various disciplines and campuses and to talk one-on-one with University and state leaders.

Throughout the tour, the faculty had the opportunity to meet and engage with members of Washington’s state government. On the first day, the tour stopped at Olympia where faculty met with Deputy Secretary of State Randy Bolerjack to learn more about the state’s legislative process. They also took a tour of the capitol building to learn of its history and to see where state legislators convene to debate and pass policy and the state’s budgets.

In Vancouver, Reps. Paul Harris and Sharon Wylie had dinner with the faculty members and participated in an after-dinner lecture by Assistant Professor Miranda Belarde-Lewis, an expert on Indigenous systems of knowledge, Native American art and artifacts, and tribal museums and Indigenous curation.

Across the mountains, Sen. Mark Schoesler hosted the faculty at his fifth-generation dryland wheat farm in Ritzville. While at the farm, Sen. Schoesler shared the history of his family farm and the region and talked about farming practices and economics. He also brought out and demonstrated some of the equipment used on the farm.

The tour covered roughly 1,000 miles of Washington state and connected UW’s new faculty members with the local communities and people that the University serves.

Thank you to Deputy Bolerjack, Sen. Schoesler, and Reps. Harris and Wylie for participating and for your continued support of the UW.

College & Workforce Development Committee Chair meets with UW engineering leaders

Rep. Vandana Slatter, Chair of the College & Workforce Development Committee, met with leaders in the College of Engineering (CoE) last week to discuss growth opportunities to help meet the demand for engineering degrees, cutting-edge research and technology, and the importance of equity in STEM fields.

Rep. Slatter first met with CoE Dean Nancy Allbritton to learn more about the College’s strategic vision and priorities, the students served, and the partnerships the College has with industry, such as the Industry Capstone Project. Dean Allbritton also highlighted the overwhelming demand for engineering degrees from Washington students and employers and encouraged the state to further invest in engineering enrollments, financial aid, and student support services.

Karen Thomas-Brown, Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, then provided an overview of CoE’s Pathways for Inclusive Excellence programs: Dean’s Scholars, Washington State Academic RedShirt (STARS), and Allen School Startup. These programs provide underserved students in Washington with opportunities to access and pursue engineering and computer science in a supportive environment that is committed to their success. Rep. Slatter took a deep dive into the workings of these impactful programs and learned more about the resources needed to ensure student success now and in the future.

After, Rep. Slatter connected with women leaders in diverse disciplines across CoE to hear about their impactful research and programs, including how they benefit Washingtonians and the state. They also had the opportunity to share what support is needed from the legislature for UW employees and students and learned how they can best engage in the legislative process (helpful hint: contact the Office of State Relations).

Rep. Slatter’s final stop of the day was at the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering where she learned how the state’s recent investments in expanding computer science enrollments at the UW are being utilized to improve student access and success.

Thank you, Rep. Slatter, for visiting the UW to connect with our College of Engineering leaders.

Governor and higher education leaders celebrate session successes at UW Tacoma

Governor Jay Inslee, legislators, students, and higher education advocates gathered at UW Tacoma yesterday for Bridge to the Future, an event celebrating the post-secondary successes of the 2022 legislative session. In recent years, the state has made considerable investments in higher education, including student financial aid and increased funding for faculty and staff compensation.

UW Tacoma Chancellor Sheila Edwards Lange kicked off the celebration by welcoming the attendees and highlighting how the state’s recent investments have benefitted UW Tacoma and students, especially those that are first-generation and low-income. She also emphasized the importance of continuing to invest in faculty and staff, who are vital to the excellence of higher education institutions and student success.

Gov. Inslee and the House and Senate higher education committee chairs, Rep. Vandana Slatter and Sen. Emily Randall, celebrated the recent legislative achievements that have helped make post-secondary education more accessible and affordable for all Washingtonians. Additionally, they focused on the future and stressed the importance of continuing to invest in higher education to improve prosperity for our residents, local communities, and the state.

Speakers also included student leaders who have directly benefited from the state’s recent investments, including Reanne Chilton, WSU Graduate student; Andre Jiminez, UW Tacoma Student Body President; Marco Montoya, South Bates Technical College Ironworker Apprentice, and; Evans Kaame, Washington Student Association President. They shared their unique journeys to post-secondary education and spoke of the profound impact it has had on their lives and futures. They highlighted the broad swath of investments that were critical to their success, such as financial aid, mental health and student support services, and opportunity pathways, and encouraged the state to expand investments so more Washingtonians will pursue higher education and students will receive the support needed to attain a degree or credential.

Thank you to all the higher education leaders in attendance, including Speaker Laurie Jinkins, Representatives Mari Leavitt, Drew Hansen, and Gerry Pollet, and Senator David Frockt.








Rep. Kloba attends UW cannabis forum with world renowned researchers

Yesterday, Rep. Shelley Kloba attended a retreat held by the UW Center for Cannabis Research (UW-CCR) to learn from world renowned researchers at the University of Washington, Washington State University, and University of California at Irvine about their cutting-edge research on the impacts of cannabis use.

Rep. Kloba is a champion in the Washington State Legislature of cannabis research efforts to better understand the short- and long-term impacts of cannabis use to improve public safety and inform policy.

The forum featured seven lectures focused on THC and new technologies, behavior, and impairment from experts in diverse fields of cannabis research, including basic and clinical sciences. Post-doctoral fellows, graduate students, and undergraduates also had the opportunity to showcase their cannabis-related research to the more than 50 attendees during a poster reception.

The UW-CCR was founded in 2017 to coordinate and centralize cannabis research across key disciplines. Their mission is to foster innovation in cannabis research and technology and to solidify science to address pressing cannabis-related questions, such as the public health, social, and economic impacts of high potency THC cannabis use. As part of their public service mission, the Center holds retreats and webinars to provide participants with the opportunity to learn and exchange ideas and contacts for future research and policy collaboration. For more information about UW-CCR’s upcoming and past events, visit their events page.

Thank you, Rep. Kloba, for participating in the retreat and for championing cannabis research in Washington state.

Extraordinary number of state legislators not seeking reelection

Since October, twenty-two state lawmakers have announced their retirement from the Washington Legislature or their decision to run for the Senate instead of the House. Turnover in the legislature is common, especially in an election year, but the considerable number of state lawmakers not seeking reelection is sure to shake up the upcoming election season and makeup of the 2023 legislature.

Washington state’s legislature consists of 98 seats in the House of Representatives and 49 seats in the Senate, with Democrats controlling both chambers. This election cycle, all 98 House seats are up for election, as are 23 of the Senate seats.

Here are the legislators who have officially announced they will not seek reelection:

House of Representatives

Rep. Eileen Cody, D-West Seattle (Legislative District 34), announced her retirement in March. She has served in the House since 1995 and sits on the Appropriations and Health Care and Wellness Committees.

Rep. Laurie Dolan, D-Olympia (LD 22), is a UW alumnus who assumed office in 2017 and currently serves on the Appropriations Committee. She announced her decision to retire from the legislature in March.

Rep. Jeremie Dufault, R-Selah (LD 15), assumed office in 2019 and will not seek reelection because the state’s new redistricting plans draw him out of district and he and his family do not want to move.

Rep. Larry Hoff, R-Vancouver (LD 18), is serving his second term in office and announced last week that he will not seek reelection. He sits on the Appropriations and College & Workforce Development Committees.

Rep. Jesse Johnson, D-Federal Way (LD 30), was appointed to the legislature in 2020 and announced in early March that he would leave the legislature to spend more time with his family. He is a UW graduate, and his wife is currently a UW Medical student.

Rep. Steve Kirby, D-South Tacoma (LD 29), has served in the House since 2001 and announced his decision to retire from the legislature in December.

Rep. Bob McCaslin, R-Spokane (LD 4), announced in February that he would leave the legislature to run for Spokane County Auditor. He has been a member of the House since 2014.

House Majority Leader Rep. Pat Sullivan, D-Covington (LD 47), is a UW alumnus who assumed office in 2005 and became the House Majority Leader in 2010. He announced his retirement from the legislature last week.

Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett (LD 38), assumed office in 2005 and announced in February that he would leave the legislature at the end of his term. He received his fifth-year teacher certification from the UW.

Rep. Emily Wicks, D-Everett (LD 38), was appointed in 2020 and announced she will not seek reelection this week. Her announcement leaves both House seats in the 38th legislative district open.

In addition, five legislators currently serving in the House plan to run for the Senate:

Rep. Matt Boehnke, R-Kennewick (LD 8), is serving his second term and sits on the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Noel Frame, D-Seattle (LD 36), assumed office in 2016 and serves on the Appropriations Committee.

Rep. Drew MacEwen, R-Union (LD 35), has served in office since 2013 and sits on the Appropriations and Capital Budget Committees.

Rep. Javier Valdez, D-Seattle (LD 46), is a UW graduate who assumed office in 2017.

Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor (LD 26), was appointed to the House in 2014.

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick (LD 8), and Rep. Vicki Kraft, R-Vancouver (LD 17) will also not seek reelection in the House to run for Congress.


Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick (LD 8), was appointed in 2013 and currently serves on the Ways & Means Committee. She announced her decision to retire from the legislature in November

Sen. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle (LD 36), assumed office in 2009 and announced in January that he will leave the legislature at the end of his term. He sits on the Ways & Means Committee.

Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle (LD 46), has served since 2011 and announced in October that he would not seek reelection. He’s the capital budget chair of the Ways & Means Committee and serves on the Health & Long Term Care Committee. He received his law degree from the UW.

Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach (LD 35), is a UW alumnus and the longest serving member of the Washington Legislature. He was elected to the House in 1990 and the Senate in 1996. He announced his retirement in March.

Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro-Woolley (LD 39), announced in December his plans to run for Secretary of State. His Senate seat is not up for election so he will return to the Senate if he loses his bid for Secretary of State.

The Washington state General Election will be held Nov. 8.

Session news: Final budget includes best compensation funding for the UW in a decade

The 2022 legislative session adjourned on time yesterday after the House and Senate passed the supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets. Due to improved state revenue and the availability of one-time federal COVID-19 relief funds, the supplemental operating budget includes significant investments in housing, social supports, health care and behavioral health, and climate policy, in addition to fixes to the two-year budget.

The operating budget also reflects the strongest compensation package the University has received since before the Great Recession. This year’s budget boosts state support for compensation, meaning fewer tuition dollars will be put towards faculty and staff salary increases.

Major investments for the UW in the operating budget include:

  • $12.9M for compensation increases for faculty and staff. The state funded 58% of the total cost of compensation for employees paid by state funding—the largest portion covered by the state in over a decade.
  • $2M for the Paul G. Allen School for Computer Science to expand degree capacity among underrepresented students. An additional $455,000 (one-time) is included for The Allen School Startup Program.
  • $505,000 to establish a new behavioral health pharmacy residency program at the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility at UW Medical Center–Northwest.
  • $621,000 for UW Tacoma’s Milgard Hall for maintenance and operations.
  • $3.25M for the Clean Energy Institute to staff and maintain clean energy battery fabrication testbeds and to facilitate clean energy technology transitions alongside community partners.
  • $1.24M for the UW Seattle School of Nursing and UW Tacoma School of Nursing and Healthcare Leadership to increase enrollments to address the state’s health care workforce shortages.
  • $500,000 (one-time) for UW Bothell for monthly stipends for students in a Business Certificate Program established in partnership with the MLK Gandhi empowerment initiative.

Overall, the University’s section of the operating budget included funding for 29 provisos and new legislation. The budget also funded House Bill 1659, which expands the Washington College Grant by $34.27M, and House Bill 1736, which establishes a state student loan program with $150M in one-time funding. House Bill 1051, which adds a faculty member to the UW Board of Regents, passed as well but did not have a fiscal impact.

Major capital investments for the UW include:

  • $10M for the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility to address increased construction costs caused by pandemic-related supply chain issues and impacts from the King County concrete drivers’ strike.
  • $2M for deferred maintenance to improve seismic preparedness for facilities on the Seattle campus.
  • $4M for the Rainier Valley Early Learning Center for a site study and predesign of two Early Childhood Education and Assistance Program classrooms (funding provided via the City of Seattle).
  • $8M for Coronavirus Contingency Fund Grants that state agencies, including the UW, may apply for to support active construction projects experiencing cost increases caused by inflation and supply chain delays.

The 2022 compromise budgets include substantial investments in the University. The Office of State Relations sincerely thanks the legislature for the continued support of the UW.

For a comprehensive summary of the budgets, visit the UW Office of Planning & Budget’s briefs page.

Session news: Supplemental budget proposals released with UW investments

Over the past week, the House and Senate each released their 2022 operating and capital supplemental budget proposals. The proposals fully fund the University of Washington’s legislative requests and include significant support for student financial aid.

Major investments for the UW in the operating budget proposals include:

  • $14.6M (Senate) | $11.2M (House) for compensation increases for faculty and staff.
  • $2M for the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science to expand degree capacity focused on underrepresented students (Senate & House).
  • $505,000 to create a new behavioral health pharmacy residency program at the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility at UW Medical Center–Northwest (Senate & House).
  • $800,000 for the Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation to complete research on health disparities in Spokane and eastern Washington (Senate only).
  • $607,000 (Senate) | $621,000 (House) for UW Tacoma’s Milgard Hall for maintenance and operations.
  • $3.25M for the Clean Energy Institute to maintain clean energy battery fabrication testbeds and to facilitate clean energy technology transitions through community partnerships and engagement (Senate & House).
  • $1.2M for the School of Nursing to increase enrollments to help address the state’s health care workforce shortages (House only).

Yesterday, both operating budgets were heard in committee. Joe Dacca and Morgan Hickel testified in support, emphasizing the UW’s appreciation for increased funds for faculty and staff compensation.

The House and Senate capital budget proposals released this week also provided funding for the University, including:

  • $10M (Senate) |$6.2 million (House) for the Behavioral Health Teaching Facility to address increased construction costs caused by inflation and supply chain delays.
  • $7.5M for the Clean Energy Institute to construct an open-access battery testbed facility and for equipment to enhance material, imaging, and analysis capabilities.
  • $2M for deferred maintenance to improve seismic preparedness for facilities on the Seattle campus.

House and Senate budget leaders will now work toward a final compromise budget. The last day of the 2022 legislative session is March 10. To read more about each budget proposal, visit the Office of Planning & Budgeting’s briefs page here.

State revenue projected to increase by more than $1.4 billion in the 2021-23 biennium

Washington state revenue projections for the current 2021-23 budget cycle have increased by more than $1.4 billion since November, according to the Washington State Economic Revenue Forecast Council’s February revenue report. The state’s Near General Fund revenues are now projected at $61.7 billion for the biennium ending June 30, 2023.

High inflation rates, along with growth in retail and real estate, are cited as the main drivers for the increase in revenues. Seattle-area inflation rose by 7.6% and inflation is expected to be higher in 2022 and 2023 compared to November projections. However, forecasters expect inflation to decrease after this year.

The state’s unemployment rate continued its steep decline from the start of the pandemic and now sits at 4.5%. Unemployment insurance claims are at the lowest levels ever and personal income has slightly increased since November. Like the rest of the country, Washington is seeing high levels of job openings and resignations.

The February economic and revenue forecast is the first since the start of the new year. The House and Senate are expected to release their draft budget proposals later this week or early next and will consider the forecast when negotiating the final compromise budgets.

The 2022 legislative session is two-thirds of the way through. Bills that did not move from their house of origin yesterday are now considered dead unless necessary to implement the budget. Session is scheduled to end March 10.

For an in-depth review of the state’s revenue forecast, visit the Office of Planning & Budgeting’s website here.