Higher education was back in the spotlight last week as committees met to discuss issues impacting colleges and students – access, affordability, workforce needs, and economic demand. The CTC system was well represented by presidents, trustees, faculty, students, and staff, who demonstrated how CTCs create tomorrow’s workforce through academic excellence. Below are highlights from last week’s higher education meetings.
Joint Higher Education Task Force meeting
Created in 2012 under House Bill 2483, the Joint Higher Education Task Force is comprised of five legislators and is responsible for evaluating the work of the Washington Student Achievement Council (WSAC).
Gene Sharratt, WSAC executive director, provided a status update on the Ten-Year Roadmap for Washington’s higher education system. The final Roadmap is due to the Legislature in December 2013.
WSAC councilmembers also presenting were Karen Lee, Ray Lawton, Paul Francis, and Rai Nauman Mumtaz.
House Higher Ed hits the road
Chair Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, took the House Higher Education Committee on a tour of several colleges and universities in Eastern Washington. CTCs included were Walla Walla, Columbia Basin, and Yakima Valley. Presidents, trustees, faculty, students, and staff presented and participated in committee hearings, tours, and meetings illustrating the important role CTCs play in providing high-quality postsecondary education.
Walla Walla Community College: September 18
On Wednesday, September 18, legislators spent the day in Walla Walla learning how innovative local partnerships contribute to student success, retention and completion in the CTC system. Conversation also focused on higher education’s partnership with industry to help close skill gaps in the workforce.
David Prince, SBCTC research director, presented statewide findings on student completion and retention rates. Through the CTC performance funding mechanism -- the Student Achievement Initiative -- student success has grown and remained steady over recent years. In addition, data shows students succeed at an even higher level when they have access to financial aid (e.g. the State Need Grant).
Steve VanAusdle, Walla Walla Community College president, illustrated how higher education is meeting industry needs and boosting the state’s economy. President VanAusdle shared how creating jobs, increasing wages and balancing today’s societal challenges leads to economic prosperity for future generations. He also noted that investing in CTCs leads to job growth, a more skilled workforce, and healthier local economies.
Also presenting: Josh Wyner, The Aspen Institute; Wendy Samitore, Walla Walla Community College; Kristi Wellington-Baker, Walla Walla Community College; Clare Carson, Whitman College; Sarah Swager, Central Washington University; Bill Clemens, Pacific Power/Eastern Washington Workforce Development Council; and Dr. Joe Small, Walla Walla Community College.
Legislators visited the Health Sciences Center in Richland, WA on Thursday, September 19, to hear how higher education is aligning with K-12 and responding to the evolving needs of the health care industry.
Bill Moore, SBCTC Core to College director, Jim Brady, Spokane Falls Community College faculty, and others discussed how K-12 and CTCs are partnering on the Smarter Balanced assessment test and the Common Core State Standards. Faculty and staff across the state are working to create a seamless transition for college-bound high school students, especially in the area of math.
Edward Esparza, SBCTC policy associate, updated the committee on implementation of 2SSB 5624 – creating applied baccalaureate STEM degrees in alignment with K-12. Under the bill, passed during the 2013 legislative session, SBCTC was allocated $500,000 in one-time funding to create two BAS degree programs tied to STEM fields. After an internal request for proposal process, five CTCs were selected: Bellevue, Cascadia, Green River, Olympic, and Renton Technical.
Mary Hoerner, Columbia Basin College nursing director, led a presentation describing how CTCs contribute to a robust medical workforce. Hoerner demonstrated that the medical field is as diverse as the student population Columbia Basin serves – from registered nurses, licensed practical nurses, medical assistants and others, CTCs are creating multiple pathways that result in living wage jobs.
Rich Cummins, Columbia Basin College president, provided a tour of the Health Sciences Center to demonstrate how students apply classroom knowledge in a hands-on learning environment.
Also presenting: Jesse Nelson, Central Washington University; Melissa Pettey, Spokane Public Schools; Eleni Papadakis, Workforce Training and Coordinating Board; Kristen Fox, Kadlec Health System; John Roll, Washington State University; Keith Watson, Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences; Christina Nyirati, Heritage University; and Linda Dale, Heritage University.
Yakima Valley Community College: September 20
The final day of the tour landed legislators at Yakima Valley Community College where panelists provided an update on diversity and service to underrepresented students in Washington’s higher education system.
Linda Kaminski, Yakima Valley Community College president, discussed student demographics and college resources that lead to student success including access to in-demand programs, advising, and financial aid.
Tomas Ybarra, Yakima Valley Community College vice president of instruction and student services, along with Elizabeth DeVilleneuve and Matthew Loeser both YVCC faculty, provided an overview of how YVCC is serving underrepresented students. Using data and ongoing student feedback, college services are continually evolving to meet students’ needs. More underrepresented students are enrolling in college, including in high-demand STEM fields, thanks to partnerships with local educational service districts, CTC advising services, student clubs and online learning.
Also presenting: Randy Spaulding, WSAC; Sheila Edwards Lange, University of Washington; Enrique Morales, University of Washington; Marc Robinson, Washington State University; Olivia Gutierrez, Heritage University; Miriam Bocchetti, College Assistance Migrant Program (CAMP); and John Swiney, Central Washington University.
The House and Senate will hold committee assembly November 21 – 22 in Olympia. Committee assembly days is an annual event where all House and Senate committees hold work sessions on various topics that may lead to legislation in the upcoming session.
Legislative News will be published periodically during the legislative interim as system-wide legislative activities and other events impacting community and technical colleges occur.