Cash for college sought

EVERETT – Local lawmakers will try to convince Gov. Chris Gregoire to include $31 million in her proposed budget to buy land and plan for a university in Snohomish County.

“It’s important to get the money in the governor’s budget,” said Sen. Jean Berkey, D-Everett. “I think we have the momentum to carry this through.”

What Berkey and several other political and business leaders want is a four-year independent university with a focus on science and technology, similar to California’s polytechnic state universities in Pomona and San Luis Obispo. It also would offer liberal arts and other programs.

At an Everett-area Chamber of Commerce meeting Friday, green buttons with white letters proclaimed: “Make it so! WIT Washington Institute of Technology Everett.”

A committee of business and elected leaders appointed by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board voted in August to endorse the stand-alone university proposal.

Their work was part of a $500,000 study ordered by the Legislature last year to address the long-term higher education needs of north Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties.

Snohomish County is one of the nation’s largest counties without a four-year public university within its borders.

The polytechnic proposal is drawing resistance from community colleges and the University of Washington Bothell.

Steven Olswang, chancellor at the UW Bothell, said he feels demand for university degrees in the three-county region can be met by expanding resources that are already available.

Six area lawmakers, including three from Bothell, asked UW Bothell last Monday to present a plan on how it would serve Snohomish, Skagit and Island counties.

Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, said a UW Bothell program in the Marysville-Everett area is “a rational, practical option” that would save costs of another university administration.

Olswang said UW Bothell can offer classes much sooner than a new university could be built. He plans to outline the proposal sometime this week.

Some lawmakers say branching off from a branch campus of a Seattle university isn’t the way to go.

“When you become an extension of an extension, you become third string,” said Sen. Dave Schmidt, R-Mill Creek.

Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, said she understands the pressures facing existing colleges but doesn’t think UW or others should stand in the way.

“They fear they’ll wind up with a smaller piece of the pie if we add a new school to the mix,” she said. “But instead of fighting over the existing pie, we need to make the pie bigger and provide opportunities that truly serve our students.”

Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, said his first choice is a stand-alone university, but he is interested in reading the UW Bothell plan.

“We want something that is consistent, that is long-term and has close access,” he said.

Consultants say a new university would need 300 acres. Possible locations include Everett, Marysville, Arlington and Stanwood.

They also say a four-year university could open modestly in four years in leased space and grow to 8,000 students by 2025.

The state Higher Education Coordinating Board could vote on the Snohomish County university proposal as early as Oct. 27 in Yakima. It’s required to send a recommendation to the governor and the Legislature by Dec. 1.

Everett Mayor Ray Stephanson said there is something “fundamentally wrong” when students with 3.7 grade point averages can’t get into the University of Washington in Seattle.

More options are needed, he said.

He also urged UW Bothell and the community colleges to be part of a united front.

“When you cut through all the money issues and turf issues, this is about access for our kids and our grandkids,” Stephanson said.

“It is vitally important that we put our self-interests aside,” Stephanson said.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Cars move across Edgewater Bridge toward Everett on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, in Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edgewater Bridge redo linking Everett, Mukilteo delayed until mid-2024

The project, now with an estimated cost of $27 million, will detour West Mukilteo Boulevard foot and car traffic for a year.

Lynn Deeken, the Dean of Arts, Learning Resources & Pathways at EvCC, addresses a large gathering during the ribbon cutting ceremony of the new Cascade Learning Center on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023, at Everett Community College in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
New EvCC learning resource center opens to students, public

Planners of the Everett Community College building hope it will encourage students to use on-campus tutoring resources.

Everett Police Chief Dan Templeman announces his retirement after 31 years of service at the Everett City Council meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett police chief to retire at the end of October

Chief Dan Templeman announced his retirement at Wednesday’s City Council meeting. He has been chief for nine years.

Boeing employees watch the KC-46 Pegasus delivery event  from the air stairs at Boeing on Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019 in Everett, Wa. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Boeing’s iconic Everett factory tour to resume in October

After a three-year hiatus, tours of the Boeing Company’s enormous jet assembly plant are back at Paine Field.

A memorial for a 15-year-old shot and killed last week is set up at a bus stop along Harrison Road on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2023, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Teen boy identified in fatal shooting at Everett bus stop

Bryan Tamayo-Franco, 15, was shot at a Hardeson Road bus stop earlier this month. Police arrested two suspects.

This photo provided by OceanGate Expeditions shows a submersible vessel named Titan used to visit the wreckage site of the Titanic. In a race against the clock on the high seas, an expanding international armada of ships and airplanes searched Tuesday, June 20, 2023, for the submersible that vanished in the North Atlantic while taking five people down to the wreck of the Titanic. (OceanGate Expeditions via AP)
A new movie based on OceanGate’s Titan submersible tragedy is in the works: ‘Salvaged’

MindRiot announced the film, a fictional project titled “Salvaged,” on Friday.

Mike Bredstrand, who is trying to get back his job with Lake Stevens Public Works, stands in front of the department’s building on Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2023, in Lake Stevens, Washington. Bredstrand believes his firing in July was an unwarranted act of revenge by the city. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Lake Stevens worker was fired after getting court order against boss

The city has reportedly spent nearly $60,000 on attorney and arbitration fees related to Mike Bredstrand, who wants his job back.

Chap Grubb, founder and CEO of second-hand outdoor gear store Rerouted, stands inside his new storefront on Thursday, Sept. 21, 2023, in Gold Bar, Washington. Rerouted began as an entirely online shop that connected buyers and sellers of used gear.  (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Used outdoor gear shop Rerouted finds a niche in Gold Bar

Seeking to keep good outdoor gear out of landfills, an online reselling business has put down roots in Gold Bar.

Naval Station Everett. (Chuck Taylor / Herald file)
Everett man sentenced to 6 years for cyberstalking ex-wife

Christopher Crawford, 42, was found guilty of sending intimate photos of his ex-wife to adult websites and to colleagues in the Navy.

Most Read