Offering new horizons for our region

In February we stated in this newspaper that the proposal to assign long term management of the University Center of North Puget Sound at Everett Community College to Washington State University was not about the present, it was about the future.

Recently, Gov. Chris Gregoire signed Second Su

bstitute Senate Bill 5636, which widely opens the door for Everett, Snohomish County and north Puget Sound to expand higher education access that we have sought for decades. We expect great things from this beginning.

The bill provides a process to integrate WSU in the leadership of the University Center to ensure long-term continuity. As a land grant research university, WSU will greatly expand the scope and reach for the region’s students to quality and expansive higher education opportunity.

We are fortunate to be able to build on the solid foundation provided by the area’s community colleges and the University Center. Had the leadership of Everett Community College and its four-year partners not revived the University Center and seen it flourish, advanced degree prospects for the region would have suffered. Gratefully, the current foundation is strong.

Community leaders welcome the experience and leadership of WSU in the long-range strategic planning process. This opportunity offers many new options beyond the economy’s appetite for engineers, technicians and managers. WSU’s presence in the community is a versatile asset capable of driving not only economic resurgence but also fostering cultural growth and expanding educational enrichment.

It means new partnerships for local business to exchange perspectives, identify specific education needs, develop internship programs and forecast trends. Keeping these businesses local and successful strengthens our economy and stabilizes employment.

It means new relationships, experiences and opportunities for students, families, residents and community groups to diversify our cultural core around WSU and the University Center partners.

These new choices also offer the hope of keeping many new graduates here in the north Puget Sound to stimulate new enterprises, build their community and raise their families.

We are thankful for the blend of civic leadership, foresight and determination that made this vision a reality. Simply put, this expansion of higher education will enrich our community and make it a better place to live, learn and work.

This piece was co-signed by Rich Anderson, Holly Burkett-Pohland, Rick Cooper, Crystal Donner, Mike Holcomb, Jim Langus, Troy McClelland, Gary L. Meisner, John Mohr, John Monroe, Scott Murphy, Carol Nelson, Duane Pearson, Ross Rettenmier, Buzz Rodland and Greg Tisdel.

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