Everett asks Washington State University to offer classes

With a campaign to bring a University of Washington campus to Snohomish County on hold, Everett leaders are asking Washington State University to provide mechanical engineering classes in town.

In a Dec. 22 letter to WSU President Elson Floyd, Mayor Ray Stephanson said Everett has “repeatedly demonstrated interest, support and need for upper and advanced engineering programming.”

Indeed, Larry Ganders, an assistant to the WSU president, said he remembers on-and-off conversations dating back to 1988 between Everett and WSU.

“We certainly are looking at it,” Ganders said. “We are going to have to look at the market.”

Stephanson urged the university to consider the Everett area’s diverse economy, which supports more than 85,000 jobs in aerospace, health care and the Navy.

Everett would piggyback on a WSU plan to bring mechanical engineering courses to Bremerton next fall.

Ganders said there would be several key issues to resolve, including how to pay for the courses at a time the Legislature is considering deep budget cuts.

In addition, the University of Washington has expressed an interest in offering courses, including engineering classes, at a branch campus that some day could be built in north Snohomish County. That possibility landed on the back burner after the economy slumped and local leaders from Everett and Marysville could not agree on a site.

“If we came to Everett, we would be interested in staying for a while,” Ganders said.

In the Bremerton program, Olympic College and WSU have reached an agreement to begin offering classes. Students would take two years of courses at the community college and two years through WSU. The agreement still must be approved by the state’s Higher Education Coordinating Board.

Ganders said the courses would include distance learning with WSU professors in Pullman teaching students in Bremerton via different technologies.

There also would be classes taught in person by WSU faculty in Bremerton and labs taught in Pullman over the summer.

Pat McClain, an aide to Mayor Stephanson, said Everett and the region have been looking for ways to increase access to higher education for several years.

The WSU possibility would make sense, given the fact the university is designing a program for Bremerton and could replicate it for other communities.

“I think the two needs might have come together in this case,” McClain said. “I think they have to get with Everett Community College and see if this is a fit for EvCC, too.”

EvCC supervises the University Center of North Puget Sound, which offers upper-division and graduate-level courses from several universities.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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