Office of Planning and Budgeting

WA Presidents, Business Leaders Gather to Discuss Public Higher Education

In a Town Hall Seattle meeting last night, Washington’s six public baccalaureate university presidents and business leaders from REI, Boeing, and Microsoft gathered to discuss  unprecedented cuts to Washington’s public institutions and generate energy for the Seattle Times’ Greater Good Campaign. Organized by the Seattle Times and funded in partnership with local businesses, the campaign intends to expand awareness of the importance of higher education for the vitality and economic security of our communities and advocate for increased funding for public higher education.

Last night, the public baccalaureate presidents expressed their concerns with retaining star faculty, providing access to low and particularly middle-income students who don’t benefit from state-supported financial aid programs, and maintaining affordable tuition rates. Business leaders shared their devotion to the Pacific Northwest, but their worries that our state’s inability to educate enough of its citizens may force their companies to look elsewhere for educated workers.

When moderator and Seattle Times editor Kate Riley asked President Young about his impressions of President Obama’s State of the Union address and blueprint for higher education reform, Young said, “They’ve got the guns aimed at the wrong problem.” In Washington, per student funding has remained flat for twenty years, but resources to support educational funding have completely switched. While the state used to provide 70 percent of the per student funding in the early 1990′s, the state now only provides 30 percent. The total funding remains the same but the primary shareholders of our public universities are now students and parents, not the state.

Footage from the event is available here.

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