TULALIP — Washington State University’s Board of Regents will meet in Snohomish County for the first time next month, a move intended to show the college is serious about building a lasting presence in the community.
l gather Sept. 1 and 2 at the Tulalip Resort Hotel to deal with an array of issues, including WSU’s eventual takeover of the University Center program from Everett Community College by 2014.
They also plan to dine with EvCC trustees, a sign the two institutions have put behind them a bitter battle in front of lawmakers this year over who should run the 500-student consortium housed on the community college campus.
“We had our disagreements in that process. It’s past that,” said Everett Community College President David Beyer.
“I said to President (Elson) Floyd, ‘We’d like to host you for dinner,’ and he said he wanted to host us,” Beyer said. “I don’t know who’s hosting who, but I know we’re having dinner.”
Typically, the 10-member governance board for the Pullman-based university system meets on the main campus or at its branches in Spokane, Vancouver or the Tri-Cities. Most years, they’ve also met once in Seattle.
Floyd decided bringing the board to Snohomish County would help WSU’s assimilation into a region where it hopes to increase opportunities for four-year degrees in the future.
“We are deeply committed to the success of our engagement in the Everett community,” he said.
Beyer said the meeting sends “a positive message that they’re serious, they’re committed and they want to learn more” about the region in which they are setting deeper roots.
Beyer said a “very gracious” Floyd consulted him before the decision and invited the community college to make a presentation at the meeting. That might not happen, but the dinner will.
Floyd said having the leaders “in the same space together” is a “very, very good thing for both of our institutions and incredibly important for what we look forward to doing there.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a law in May prescribing three years of steps WSU must take before it can become administrator of the University Center. Through the center, eight public and private colleges — including WSU — provide undergraduate and graduate classes to roughly 500 students.
One of those initial strides involves setting up a panel to steer WSU, EvCC and the other partners in the University Center through the transition. As the final appointments to that group are made, Beyer is looking for space on his campus for WSU personnel to set up shop.
“We’re here about educating people,” Beyer said. “We’re being proactive to work together.”
Connie Niva of Everett, one of the WSU regents, said with “lots of hoops” to jump through before the process is complete, she’s glad the divisiveness is pretty much dissipated.
She hopes bringing her fellow regents to the area greatly eases concerns residents might harbor about the university’s commitment.
“WSU is very committed and very serious about this,” she said. “Absolutely.”
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.com.