Everett student-leader on panel to help choose new WSU president

Meet Hayley Statema. The 21-year-old is a loyal Coug. She’s also a Washington State University student body president — right here in Everett.

The 2013 Cascade High School graduate studied at WSU in Pullman over the summer, but said “attending there full-time was never really an option for me.”

Statema began with Running Start at Everett Community College and plans to earn her bachelor’s degree through Washington State University North Puget Sound at Everett. Her major is integrated communication, with a minor in hospitality business management.

She’s a Starbucks barista who also works at Everett’s WSU Connections store. A first-generation university student, she’s on track — with tuition help from grandparents — to graduate debt-free.

There are many reasons to celebrate WSU’s presence here. I’m a UW Husky, but I am excited to live within walking distance of what may someday be Everett’s thriving Wazzu campus district. But the greatest benefit is the opportunity WSU in Everett offers students like Statema.

A co-founder and current president of Associated Students of Washington State University Everett, Statema was involved in two public meetings Tuesday as part of the process to select the next WSU president. The person chosen will succeed Elson Floyd, the highly respected WSU president who died in June.

Statema and Larry Hanson, publisher emeritus of The Daily Herald, are part of a 25-member search advisory committee. Mike Worthy, chairman of the committee and a member of the WSU Board of Regents, explained at Tuesday’s meeting that the regents will eventually choose WSU’s new president.

Statema’s student government role is one more sign that the region’s decades-long dream — for a four-year, public research university — is coming true.

There are now about 150 students enrolled in WSU North Puget Sound at Everett. They take classes at the Everett University Center, in Gray Wolf Hall on the EvCC campus. In September, ground was broken for a new four-story building that will house WSU’s Everett campus and the Everett University Center, which also offers degrees from other universities.

Just off EvCC’s campus along 10th Street near Starbucks, construction fences are up for a new six-story student housing complex that will house up to 120 students from the community college.

And in August, news came of the first research program for the growing campus. Plans call for the Joint Center for Deployment and Research in Earth Abundant Materials, an institute that will work on alternatives to rare earth elements used in electronics, to be housed at WSU in Everett.

Leaders of the WSU Everett campus and the community attended Tuesday’s meetings. They included Paul Pitre, dean of WSU North Puget Sound at Everett; former Snohomish County Executive Bob Drewel, now senior adviser to WSU’s interim president Dan Bernardo; and Pat McClain, executive director of governmental affairs for Everett.

McClain emphasized that a new WSU president should make advanced manufacturing and aerospace priorities for the Everett campus. Drewel stressed the importance for WSU’s president to be a master in building relationships and understanding the legislative process, particularly for funding higher education statewide.

Andrew Wahl, a journalism instructor at EvCC, has seen his students benefit from the availability of a WSU communications degree in Everett. “Seventy percent of our students are interested in that program,” he said. “Students are much more likely to complete their degree if the next step is clear and obvious to them.”

Statema isn’t a WSU alumna yet, but several of them attended Tuesday’s meeting.

Dayle Lunz, a 40-year-old mother of five from Mount Vernon, graduated from WSU’s online Global Campus in 2014. She hopes for a WSU president who “speaks Cougar.” That sentiment was shared by Peggy Ott-Pickering, a 1974 WSU graduate from Monroe who heads the Cougar alumni association in Snohomish County. Ott-Pickering described the special feeling of driving through the Palouse hills to Pullman.

Worthy said WSU Vancouver is more than 25 years old. Spokane has had a campus for years, and will soon have a WSU medical school. Many WSU graduates have never been to Pullman. “As WSU grows, there are Cougars everywhere,” he said.

Statema is just one of them. “We are working so hard to build our community here,” she said. “And I am 100 percent Coug.”

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

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