Washington State University

All things turn out OK sometimes:

New York Times – For Personal-Injury Lawyer, Michael Pollan’s Book Is Worth Fighting For

The Chronicle of Higher Education – Washington State U. Reinstates ‘The Omnivore’s Dilemma’ as Common-Reading Choice

The Daily Evergreen – The Donation revives Common Reading

Seattle Business Journal – E. coli lawyer solves WSU ‘Dilemma’

Tri-City Herald – WSU reinstates book critical of agribusiness

As Ann Strosnider, reporter for the Kitsap Sun, said in her story Attorney says higher education needs citizen leadership, I told a luncheon gathering of Olympic College supporters Monday that higher education faces a crisis in Washington state, and the state Legislature refuses to show any leadership.

“The stakes are enormous,” the Bainbridge Island resident said, and that’s why it’s so important that citizens take matters into their own hands.

I spoke at the annual community luncheon, kicking off the campaign to raise funds for the Olympic College Foundation. The goal for the 2004-05 school year is to raise $150,000 for scholarships, programs and capital projects.

While the University of Washington and WSU are proud of the high grade-point averages of incoming freshmen, they are actually a barrier for many students.

“This year you had to have a 3.6 gpa to get into WSU or the UW,” he said. “If that had been the requirement when I went to WSU, I would not be standing here today. … College can’t be just for the rich and those with a 4.0.”

I’m a strong supporter of Initiative 884, which would raise state sales tax by 1 cent to create a $1 billion education trust fund for preschool, kindergarten through high school education and higher education. It would fund an additional 25,000 college and technical school enrollments and extend state Promise Scholarships to the top 30 percent of graduating high school classes.

“We’ve been pandered to for so long with the story that it’s better to keep our money for ourselves,” Marler told the gathering. “Now I have to ask, what are you doing to help? Will you show leadership?”

Fred Kiga, Gov. Gary Locke’s former revenue director and chief of staff, has been appointed to the University of Washington Board of Regents.

Another close Locke ally, Bill Marler of Bainbridge Island, was appointed by the governor to the Higher Education Coordinating Board. Marler, a lawyer and a key member of Locke’s “kitchen cabinet,” will leave his post as a regent of Washington State University. No successor on the WSU board was named.

I will succeed state economist Chang Mook Sohn, whose term was limited. I’ll serve a four-year term.

Dean Hare of University Wire has reported that Washington State U. Regents have hired a new president. Rafael Stone was confirmed as new president of the Washington State University Board of Regents on May 7. Elizabeth A. Cowles was named vice president. I served as president in 2003-4, after being reappointed by Governor Gary Locke in 2003, and will serve on the board until 2009.

Stone said one major disappointment arising from his time on the Board of Regents is salaries for faculty. “We are constantly trying to push this in Olympia,” Stone said.
Marler said the most important issue he dealt with last year was signing President V. Lane Rawlins to a new contract.

As Catherine Toolson’s University Wire story Washington State U. faculty react to pay raise reports, the Washington State University Board of Regents approved a large salary increase for President V. Lane Rawlins on May 7. Rawlins currently earns a base wage of $254,065 per year. Beginning June 1, his base salary will be upped to $300,000 per year.

The board wished to keep Rawlins’ salary competitive with the presidents of comparable institutions, said Board of Regents President William Marler. Marler credits Rawlins for building an administrative structure that has held together despite decreasing state support and tremendous fiscal pressure.

“That was important, as he’s one of our best assets,” Marler said. “He’s one of the best presidents in the country. What we are paying him is still a bargain.”

Some WSU faculty members question the timing and amount of the pay raise, but the Board of Regents members were adamant about instituting the salary increase.

“I feel that the raise is justified if you look at what my peers are making, but I am concerned that most staff and faculty have received very little,” Rawlins said. “I have expressed this concern to the regents and the legislature. I am uncomfortable receiving such an increase at a time when most of our employees are not, and I have expressed this feeling several times. On two occasions I turned down raises. This time, the regents were more insistent.”

As Kenneth Vogel of the News Tribune reported in his article Initiatives have early momentum; November: Four committees have raised $130,000-plus, four initiative committees this week reported raising more than $130,000 each – a sign that the measures they’re supporting have a legitimate shot at appearing on the November ballot.

Investor Nicolas Hanauer and a law firm co-owned by Locke ally Bill Marler contributed $125,000 of the $146,000 raised by the committee backing the education sales-tax initiative, I-884, which Locke supports.

I-884 would increase the sales tax by 1 percent to raise $1 billion for education.

This morning, Richard Roesler of the Spokesman Review reported that Locke may kill funding for Riverpoint project, which would spend $31.6 million this year to build the shell of a combination library, classroom and office building at Washington State University’s downtown Riverpoint campus.

But Locke, who months ago proposed $6.6 million toward the project, is considering a line-item veto, which means WSU would get nothing for the project this year.

Spokane Mayor Jim West has reportedly called Locke’s office. WSU president V. Lane Rawlins and regent Bill Marler wrote a letter Tuesday. Regent Chris Marr has been talking to Locke’s staff. Marr said in Spokane Wednesday that Locke was concerned about WSU’s commitment to the nursing program at Riverpoint.

As Becky Kramer reported for the Spokesman Review in her article Campaign launched for education trust fund, with more than 200,000 signatures to collect by July 2, the League of Education Voters is starting to fire up its initiative campaign. After a year of collecting input from parents, educators, business people and community members throughout the state, the group has developed a proposal that would generate a dedicated stream of money for all levels of public education.

Money would come from a 1-cent increase in the state sales tax rate, which would bring the state rate to 7.5 percent. Local taxes are added on top of that, so the actual sales tax in Spokane, for instance, would increase from 8.1 percent to 9.1 percent.

Among other things, the education trust fund would:

  • Create 10,000 new spaces for high-needs preschoolers.
  • Fully fund Initiative 728 – approved by voters in 2000 but scaled back by
    the Legislature – which reduces class sizes.
  • Provide incentives for teachers to obtain professional skill development.
  • Provide 25,000 more enrollments at community and technical colleges and
    universities.
  • Expand Promise Scholarships and financial aid.
  • I left Pullman in the spring of 1982 with bachelor’s degrees in English, economics and political science with the goal of never looking back.

    But, similar to many students who have made that vow, I did come back – more often than ever since 1997 when Gov. Gary Locke appointed me to the WSU Board of Regents.
    Continue Reading Bill’s Keynote Address at Washington State University’s

    Richard Roesler of the Spokesman Review reported today in his story Education plan faces uncertain fate, that the League of Education Voters has proposed a one-penny sales tax hike which would raise $1 billion a year for schools.

    As the Spokesman Review reported today:

    Washington State University Regent Bill Marler said he was surprised that recent polls showed as much support as they did. Voters are particularly supportive, he said, when told that the League proposal sets up a firewall around the money, so it can’t be drained off for other state budget needs.

    “Anytime you ask people to raise their taxes it’s going to be hard,” he said. “But voters have got to look at this and realize the time has come.”

    A baby-boom echo of more than 30,000 new college students is on its way in coming years, he said, and the state has to make room for them. Already, he said, WSU is turning away some students with 3.5 grade-point averages.

    Some republicans are calling the proposition unrealistic, irresponsible and reckless. Critics are also pointing to the regressive nature of the sales tax, which tends to cost the poor a higher percentage of their income than the rich.

    Marler agreed that the sales tax is regressive, but said the money would help pay for scholarships, other financial aid, and education to help lift kids from poverty.

    Plus, he said, the simple one-penny proposal had the most voter support of several alternatives.

    “We polled an income tax, we polled all kinds of taxes,” he said. “This seemed fairer to voters.”