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News and Updates

Session News: President Cauce advocates for UW legislative agenda during Olympia visit

Yesterday, UW President Ana Mari Cauce came to Olympia for the first time this session to further the University’s legislative agenda. President Cauce met with a variety of lawmakers on the UW’s priorities, including expanding the School of Dentistry’s rural dental education program (RIDE) and providing permanent funding for the Startup Program in the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. With capital budget leaders, she advocated for funding to design a new Chemical Sciences Building and modernize Bagley Hall and for Climate Commitment Account dollars to support decarbonization projects at all three of UW’s campuses.

She also emphasized the importance of funding UW Medical Center (UWMC) and Harborview Medical Center (HMC), which serve as the safety-net hospitals for the state. Serving the medical and behavioral health needs of Washington residents is more important than ever, especially for those who are most vulnerable. Additionally, UWMC and HMC train the next generation of health care workers, which must be prioritized to ensure the vitality of the state.

After her meetings, President Cauce met with the presidents of Washington’s other public four-year baccalaureate institutions and attended the Council of Presidents legislative reception, where she was able to connect further with elected officials, legislative and gubernatorial staff, and higher education stakeholders.

Thank you President Cauce for your tireless advocacy of the UW!


Pictures – Left: President Ana Mari Cauce, Smokey the Bear, and Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Chair T’wina Nobles; Right: President Cauce and House Health Care & Wellness Committee Chair Marcus Riccelli

Session News: Senate has a new higher education committee chair

Sen. T’wina Nobles is the new chair of the Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee and today, presided over her first committee meeting as chair. Sen. Emily Randall previously served as chair of the committee.

Sen. Nobles represents the 28th legislative district, which includes the cities of Fircrest, Lakewood, Steilacoom, Dupont, University Place, Tacoma, Anderson Island, Ketron Island, McNiel Island, as well as Joint Base Lewis McChord. She is a former teacher at Stadium High School and Lincoln High School and since 2016, has served on the University Place School Board. She earned her Master of Arts in Teaching from University of Puget Sound after transferring from Tacoma Community College.

She has served on the Senate higher education committee since she was sworn into office in 2021. She is also the vice chair of the Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee and sits on the Transportation Committee and the Behavioral Health Subcommittee.

To learn more about Sen. Nobles, visit her website here.

Session News: Regents & trustees champion higher education with lawmakers

Regents and trustees from the state’s two- and four-year higher education institutions traveled to Olympia last week to meet with policymakers to discuss the major opportunities and challenges facing the higher education sector.

During their meetings, they spoke with a unified message about the importance of higher education and highlighted joint priorities, which include:

  • Improving awareness and encouraging postsecondary credential attainment by increasing outreach to help students and their families understand the generous financial aid resources available to them.
  • Expanding staffing for critical student support programs, including mental health, basic needs, and counseling services.
  • Fully funding competitive compensation in the next biennial budget to retain and attract high-quality educators and staff, who provide outreach, instruction, and supports to students.

The regents and trustees spoke with passion and represented the higher education sector well. We are fortunate to have such dedicated leaders advocating for higher education.

Session News: The 2024 legislative session begins with a UW flag raising and testimony on Governor’s budget proposals

Legislative session began Monday with a UW flag raising led by Governor Jay Inslee to celebrate the Husky football team’s inspiring season. UW Regent Rogelio Riojas joined the celebration and helped raise the flag alongside Governor Inslee, Sen. Javier Valdez, Rep. Chris Corry, and the other Husky faithful in attendance.

After the flag raising, the 2024 legislative session kicked into full gear. Washington State’s budgets are biennial and last year, the legislature decided the 2023-25 operating, capital, and transportation budgets. During this year’s short, 60-day session, legislators will adopt the state’s supplemental budgets, which make minor adjustments to the biennial budgets. The Governor starts the budget process and in mid-December, released his supplemental budget proposals.

Throughout the week, Morgan Hickel and Joe Dacca with the Office of State Relations testified before the House and Senate fiscal committees in support of the Governor’s proposed operating and capital budgets. Both budget proposals include funding for the UW’s top legislative priorities, which are:

  • Expansion of the UW School of Dentistry Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program;
  • Support for the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering Scholars (formerly Startup) Program;
  • Design funding for a new Chemical Sciences Building and modernization of Bagley Hall, and;
  • Climate Commitment Act funding for energy renewal projects on all three UW campuses, as well as UW Medicine-Montlake and -Northwest.

On Wednesday, College of Arts & Sciences Dean Dianne Harris and Department of Chemistry Chair Munira Khalil traveled to Olympia to meet with capital budget leaders to advocate for the funding to design and plan for a new Chemical Sciences Building and renovate Bagley Hall. Built in 1937 and 1957, the current facilities are overwhelmed by student demand and program constraints and do not meet the requirements for modern science education and research.

Also on Wednesday, Regent Jay Cunningham participated in a confirmation hearing in the Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committee. The members of the UW Board of Regents are appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate after a public confirmation hearing and floor vote. At the hearing, Regent Cunningham provided testimony about his background and commitment to service to the UW. The committee then voted to advance his confirmation to the Senate floor for consideration and a vote by all the members.

Next week, the regents and trustees from Washington’s public four-year higher education institutions and community and technical colleges will convene in Olympia to meet with legislators to advocate for improving access to college, expanding critical student support services, supporting faculty and staff, and improving postsecondary credential attainment to ensure Washington’s workforce needs are met.

If you have questions about the UW’s legislative priorities, the legislature, or specific bills, please reach out to the UW Office of State Relations. Stay tuned for updates throughout session.


Pictures – Top: Regent Rogelio Riojas & Gov. Jay Inslee at the UW flag raising; Bottom Left: Dept. of Chemistry Chair Munira Khalil and College of Arts & Sciences Dean Dianne Harris in front of the Capitol; Bottom Right: Regent Jay Cunningham testifying.


Governor unveils 2024 supplemental budget proposals with support for the UW

The 2024 legislative session begins Jan. 8 and will run for 60 consecutive days. During this short session, legislators will pass the state’s supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets, which modify the biennial budgets passed last session.

Governor Jay Inslee kicked off the budget process by releasing his budget proposals earlier this month. His proposed budgets prioritize behavioral health care, opioid and fentanyl crisis, climate change and education. His behavioral health package devotes nearly $449 million to increasing state-run bed capacity, invest in hospital staffing, and strengthen behavioral health services for youths. An additional $68 million is allocated to the opioid crisis, including education, treatment, and prevention. $140 million is dedicated to the state’s housing/homelessness strategic agenda. This funding will include creating housing for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, maintaining encampment resolution efforts, and creating a housing emergency fund.

The governor’s proposals also funded the University of Washington’s legislative priorities, as well as a few additional items:

Operating Budget

  • $2.5M in FY25 (ongoing) for the UW School of Dentistry RIDE program to develop more dentists committed to practicing in Washington’s rural and underserved communities, where high quality dental care is often challenging to access.
  • $330K in FY25 for the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering Startup Program to help prepare students with high potential and high academic need succeed in the Allen School and the workforce.
  • $50M in one-time funding for UW Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center to continue serving the medical and behavioral health needs of Washingtonians, especially those who are most vulnerable, and training the next generation of health care providers.
  • $20M in FY25 for Behavioral Health Teaching Facility support, which will operate 75 long-term beds.
  • $239K in FY25 for Senate Bill 5447, Alternative Jet Fuels Reporting to calculate and report on jet fuel emissions around SeaTac International Airport.
  • $153K in FY25 for Maintenance & Operations for the UW Medical Center-Northwest behavioral health renovation. 

Capital Budget

  • $5M to design a new Chemical Sciences Building and modernize Bagley Hall to help meet course demand, increase degree production, attract and retain world-class faculty, and conduct cutting edge research.
  • $38.9M from the Climate Commitment Act for energy renewal projects at the UW’s three campuses and UW Medical Center-Northwest. Funded projects include centralized cooling at UW Seattle, replacement of gas fired boilers at UW Tacoma and UW Bothell, and HVAC replacement at UW Medical Center-Northwest.

For in-depth details, see the Washington State Office of Financial Management’s budgets highlights (hyperlink) and the brief prepared by the UW Office of Planning & Budgeting on their Briefs page.

Washington revenue forecasted to grow in 2023-25

Yesterday, the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released the November revenue forecast, which projects the state general fund will grow by $191 million in the 2023-25 biennium compared to the September forecast. State general fund revenue is expected to total $66.88 billion in the 2023-25 budget cycle, which began July 1, 2023. This reflects a 3.3% increase over 2021-23 revenue.

Additionally, the Workforce Education Investment Account (WEIA) increased by $5 million for the 2023-25 biennium with total revenue projected at $843 million. WEIA funds many higher education priorities such as faculty and staff compensation, student financial aid and support services, and high demand degree programs.

The growth was driven by higher personal income and employment. Washington employment has increased by 5,700 jobs since September and the October unemployment rate remained low at 3.8%. The state’s all-time low unemployment rate was recorded this past September at 3.6%.

However, revenue collections are slowing across the board and consumer price inflation in the Seattle-area continues to exceed the national average, with the Seattle-area seeing inflation rates of 4.8% compared to 3.2% nationally. Rising interest rates also create instability in the commercial real estate market, business investment, and consumer demand. Forecasters will monitor these potential threats to the economy, as well as the impacts of the ongoing conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East.

This is the last revenue forecast before the start of the 2024 legislative session in January. Governor Jay Inslee will use the forecast to help draft his proposed 2024 supplemental operating, capital, and transportation budgets, which are expected to be released in mid-December. 

The November economic and revenue forecast can be found on the Washington State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council’s website here.

Innovation Hall opens on the shared campus of UW Bothell and Cascadia College

UW Bothell and Cascadia College are uniquely situated on a shared campus and partnered to fund and build a new academic building for the use of students, faculty, and staff at both institutions. The new building, Innovation Hall, officially opened for Autumn Quarter with the UWB and Cascadia community coming together yesterday to celebrate it and the partnership that made it possible.

Innovation Hall will serve all UWB academic programs and students but has STEM-specific labs – including engineering, computer software and systems, biology, and physics – to help meet student and employer demand for STEM degrees. The building and specialized labs will allow UWB and Cascadia to increase STEM degree enrollment and enhance their ability to graduate more students prepared for the STEM workforce.

Additionally, Innovation Hall was built to create learning environments that support collaboration, active learning, and further engagement between the UWB and Cascadia communities. UWB and Cascadia already have a well-established academic pipeline with many Cascadia students transferring to UWB after earning their two-year degree and the new building will boost this pipeline.

The new building would not have been possible without capital support from the state. In attendance at the grand opening were Reps. Shelly Kloba and Davina Duerr, who represent the first legislative district where UWB and Cascadia are located, and former Sen. David Frockt, who previously led the Senate capital budget process and was instrumental in securing state funds for the project.

Thank you, Sen. Frockt and Reps. Kloba and Duerr, for tirelessly advocating for this unique project and for attending the opening event.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce & Sen. David Frockt
UWB Director of Government & Community Relations, Ryan McIrvin, & Rep. Shelley Kloba

State lawmakers updated on UW elections-related projects

On Monday, faculty researchers at the Evans School of Public Policy & Governance met with state lawmakers and legislative staff to provide an update on two UW-led elections-related projects funded by the Washington State Legislature. Kicking off the meeting, Jake Grumbach led the group through a demonstration of the Statewide Elections Database, which is housed at the UW’s Center for the Study of Demography and Ecology. The public-facing website provides information on historic election results and voting trends, displayed in interactive maps and tables. It serves as a repository of voting data to help the state and its political subdivisions evaluate whether and to what extent existing laws and practices with respect to voting and elections are consistent with public policy, implement best practices in voting and elections, and investigate potential infringements or challenges on the right to vote.

Scott Allard then gave an overview of the Washington State Ballots Project, which explores practices and investigates individual voter understanding of and experiences with ballot rejection and curing processes, as well as education and outreach methods. At a high level, the study found that 1.5 percent of all primary ballots cast and 1.1 of general election ballots cast were rejected from 2012 and 2022. Roughly half of all rejected ballots arrived late to county offices, while a very small percentage of the ballots were rejected for a missing signature or having a signature that does not match the signature(s) on file. The study also found evidence that voters of color, men, and younger voters often have higher ballot rejects rates. The final report made recommendations for research, policy, and practice to reduce the number of rejected ballots, increase ballot cure rates, and improve the voter experience in Washington.

Overall, the review of both projects was highly informative and a great example of the work the University does to partner with the state to better understand important topics.

Higher education committees tour UW’s dentistry and medical programs in Spokane

Sen. Jeff Holy & UW RIDE student

Members of the House and Senate higher education committees traveled to Spokane last week to explore the many postsecondary opportunities located in eastern Washington, including the UW School of Dentistry’s Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) and the UW Medicine’s WWAMI Regional Medical Education programs.

The nationally renowned RIDE program trains dentists to meet the needs of the state’s rural and underserved communities. Headquartered in Spokane, RIDE’s innovative training model immerses students in community-based clinics to gain valuable field experience while also providing high quality dental care to communities with access-to-care challenges. In the classroom, RIDE is co-located with Eastern Washington University’s dental hygiene program to maximize resources and enhance training. RIDE is a cost-effective, scalable model for increasing the number of qualified dentists practicing in rural and underserved areas, and prioritizes team-oriented, culturally competent training so graduates are prepared to meet the unique needs of Washington’s diverse communities.

Enhancing the RIDE program is one of the University’s top priorities for the upcoming legislative session. The UW is requesting $2.5 million in ongoing funds from the state to double the number of RIDE students trained from 32 to 64 and to add a second year of curriculum based in Spokane. The UW has already secured $1.5M in federal funds for dental simulation equipment to support this expansion and aims to attract additional research funding to Spokane as well. The tour allowed the visiting legislators and faculty to learn more about this impactful program and the University’s funding request, as well as meet current RIDE students and faculty and see them in action.

Next on the agenda was WWAMI (Washington, Wyoming, Alaska, Montana, Idaho), the UW School of Medicine’s one-of-kind, multi-state medical education program. Two of WWAMI’s primary goals are to increase the number of primary care physicians, especially in rural and underserved areas, and provide community-based medical education. To further these goals, the UW teamed up with Gonzaga University to create the Health Partnership in Spokane and together, the UW and Gonzaga partnered with McKinstry to build a new center for medical education, health sciences, and innovation. This new building is located at 840 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. and is where students studying at the UW School of Medicine in Spokane complete their first 18 months of medical school. It also allows for innovative research and brings world-class health science experts to the region. The higher education committees toured all four floors of the new building, connected with WWAMI students and faculty, and learned about some of the exciting research already taking place in the building.

Thank you to the House Postsecondary Education & Workforce and Senate Higher Education & Workforce Development Committees for taking the opportunity to learn more about RIDE and WWAMI, as well as your continued support of the UW.

Legislators tour the Power Plant and learn about UW’s decarbonization strategy

Sen. Joe Nguyễn, Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon and Lisa Callan, and House Capital Budget Committee and House Democratic Caucus staff took a behind-the-scenes tour of the UW Power Plant last week. The tour showcases the Seattle campus’ existing energy infrastructure and unveils the University’s innovative clean energy transformation strategy.

The UW is committed to fully decarbonizing the energy system of the Seattle campus with the Power Plant being the main driver of our efforts. The Power Plant has served the campus for well over 100 years, but its aging infrastructure needs to be modernized to meet daily campus operations and its reliance on fossil fuels no longer aligns with the University’s sustainability goals. To move the campus to 100% clean energy, the UW has crafted a five-part strategy that relies on energy efficiency, transforms heating and cooling, and includes innovative opportunities such as sewer heat recovery, deep lake cooling and heating, and thermal energy storage. During the 2023 legislative session, the University requested and received $3 million in operating funds to fully develop our clean energy transformation strategy and to plan for implementation. This work is currently underway.

In the meantime, the UW has identified six projects to request Climate Commitment Account dollars for during the upcoming 2024 session that support foundational energy renewal and decarbonization efforts across all three campuses and UW Medical Center facilities. These strategic investments include: UW Seattle centralized chilled water capacity improvements, Clean Energy Institute tenant improvements and research-related needs, UW Bothell Central Plant improvements and gas boiler replacements, UW Tacoma gas boiler replacement, UWMC NW Campus Central Utility Plant planning, and UWMC Montlake Campus HVAC systems renewal.

For more information about the University’s energy strategy, visit UW sustainability.

Thank you, Sen. Nguyễn, Reps. Fitzgibbon and Callan, and House staff for touring the UW Power Plan and supporting the University’s decarbonization efforts.