Opponents stake positions on WSU bid in Everett

  • Jerry Cornfield
  • Monday, February 7, 2011 2:36pm
  • Local News

The city of Everett is going all-out to pack a legislative hearing Thursday where lawmakers will consider letting Washington State University expand its presence in the city.

Pat McClain, the city’s executive director and right-hand man to the mayor, has e-mailed civic, business, labor and education leaders urging their attendance at the “critical” 10 a.m. hearing on House Bill 1792 in front of the House Higher Education Committee.

The bill, calls for WSU to take charge of the University Center of North Puget Sound in 2014. Everett Community College now operates the program on its campus. It offers bachelor’s and master’s degree programs through eight partner schools, one of which is WSU

“We need a strong, articulate and supportive turnout from a broad cross-section of the Everett and Snohomish County community,” begins the e-mail sent Friday afternoon.

“Please advise your colleagues, members and friends their presence Thursday and their expression of support may be the lynch pin to securing a higher education partner for decades to come. Lawmakers are looking for a visible demonstration of our commitment to this proposal. It is critical that business, labor, education and community leaders attend Thursday morning and express their support for this far-reaching opportunity with WSU.

“Please keep us aware of supporters planning to take in the hearing Thursday morning. For HOV access I will keep a list of those seeking carpool opportunities.”

EvCC President David Beyer is one of the e-mail recipients. But if shows up he’ll probably speak in opposition after reading what he wrote in an op-ed in The Herald on Sunday that made clear his distaste of the bill.

The piece concludes:

EvCC takes the role of a neutral third party in brokering University Center programs through a collaborative approach with our partners. With WSU proposing to become both a partner and broker, the relationships between competitor and collaborator get harder to define and trickier to manage.

I have concerns about the ability of WSU to collaboratively lead the University Center based on the lack of engagement with EvCC and the other university partners during the discussions about the University Center’s future.

While I respect the dedication and support of our community leaders and county legislators who have developed House Bill 1792 and Senate Bill 5636, the college’s Board of Trustees and administration remain skeptical, at best, to the potential effectiveness and efficiency of a WSU-run University Center.

In the meantime, the community college’s Board of Trustees is holding a special meeting tonight to discuss the bill. Trustees have yet to take a formal position on the bill.

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