April 20 and 21 Board of Trustees recap

Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion.

Trustees Meet for First Time in Kitsap County

Western’s Board of Trustees – for what is believed to be the first time – met in Kitsap County as a sign of the university strengthening connections in that area.

“We are delighted you are here. It’s been a great partnership,” said Olympic College President David Mitchell during the trustees’ meeting last Friday at Olympic College in Poulsbo.

“We are very honored to work with Olympic College,” said Western Provost Brent Carbajal.

Mitchell and Carbajal joined with Earl Gibbons, Western vice provost-Extended Education; Huxley College Dean Steve Hollenhorst, and Rovy Branon, vice provost for Educational Outreach at the University of Washington, to discuss with trustees the impact of Western’s Extended Education both now and in the future, as well as the changing nature of educational outreach.

Mitchell recalled that Western’s partnership with Olympic College started with a phone call he made to former Western President Bruce Shepard. Mitchell said Western’s expanded presence in that area will allow more people to fulfill their educational aspirations and provide more well-educated workers for the growing local economy.

Gibbons noted that the area of Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas, with about 350,000 combined population, is one of the most underserved areas of the state, in terms of access to public four-year university education. Many students there seeking higher education in that area are older, non-traditional, or first generation.

“There is a tremendous need” for access to public four-year higher education there, Gibbons said.

Hollenhorst said that Western’s presence in that area goes back 23 years, when Huxley College received grant funding to help retrain displaced loggers.

Since that phone call between Mitchell and Shepard, Western on the Peninsulas, the WWU Center at Olympic College Poulsbo, established in 2013, now offers a range of degree programs.

In addition, Western now operates the SEA Discovery Center in Poulsbo, offering both education outreach there to area school children as well as marine research.

Gibbons, who described Western’s self-supporting Extended Education (EE) as the “outreach arm of Western,” said that EE now has programs in Poulsbo, Bremerton, and Port Angeles, as well as Tacoma, Burien, Seattle, Everett, Mount Vernon and Bellingham. EE also operates Western’s summer school on the Bellingham campus as well as intensive English programs for international students.

Gibbons said that EE often utilizes technology for distance and remote classes; online enrollment is growing rapidly.

Branon, who oversees all UW Professional and Continuing Education programs serving about 50,000 people across the state of Washington, said that people are living and working longer today and need more education at different points throughout their careers and lives. Branon also noted the rapid technological change, saying that new human knowledge doubles every 18 months. Higher education needs to “get out of Ivy-covered bubbles” and reach out to more people where they can best be served, he said.

In other business, the trustees:


Note: all images above courtesy Heather Purcell Mackey