Governor signs bill to bring WSU to Everett
Gregoire signs a new law to bring the school to Everett.
Photo courtesy Aaron Barna
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, accepts congratulations from Gov. Chris Gregoire after the signing of bill that will bring Washington State University to Everett. Also in the photo are Rep. Mike Sells; Rep. Hans Dunshee; Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson (to Haugen's immediate right); WSU President Elson Floyd (in the foreground next to Stephanson); and Sen. Nick Harper, D-Everett (far right).
WSU President Elson Floyd made the pronouncement Thursday moments after Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a new law giving the research university a path to a permanent presence in the city.
"This is absolutely the happiest day of my public life to provide four year education opportunities for my citizens," said a jubilant Mayor Ray Stephanson. "The community is abuzz with Washington State coming to Everett."
Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, broke into tears as Gregoire handed her the pen used to sign the bill that marks the latest -- and possibly last -- attempt to land a research university in Snohomish County.
"It's going to work. There's too much determination," Haugen said.
Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, whose been at the forefront of the fight in the House, said, "It's going to happen. People are going to have to get around the table now and figure out the how."
This bill doesn't create a branch campus as proposed in 2007 with the University of Washington.
Instead, it lays out how WSU will take charge of a program in 2014 now run by Everett Community College.
At the University Center of North Puget Sound, public and private colleges including the University of Washington and Western Washington University provide bachelor's and master's degree courses to about 500 students. Classes are conducted online and in classrooms at the community college.
Under the new law, WSU must establish an engineering class at the University Center. Floyd said he hopes students can be recruited in spring 2012 and that those enrollment slots will be funded by the Legislature.
The state's community college system opposed the bill, viewing it as a hostile takeover. Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard*
also spoke loudly against this proposal.
Shepard said Thursday he's committed to making it work.
"We questioned the wisdom of it," he said. "That's all history."
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.com.
* Correction, May 16, 2011: This article has been updated to correct the spelling of Bruce Shepard's name.
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