Week Three Recap

Three weeks into the legislative session and the calendar is already turning to February. The flurry of activity continued by COP staff with additional presentations, legislative meetings, and committee testimony. On Tuesday, Executive Director Paul Francis presented before the Senate Ways and Means Committee on Washington’s nationally recognized public four-year dashboard. Created in 2011 with the passage of House Bill 1795, the dashboard endorsed the ten progress and outcome metrics from the National Governors Association’s 2010 Complete to Complete initiative.

Following Mr. Francis, the presidents of CWU, EWU, Evergreen, UW, WWU joined the provost of WSU in discussing how recent state investments in STEM/high demand education and student success initiatives have helped to improve student access to those programs. Campus leaders also highlighted the need for stable and predictable long-term funding – as well as needed investments in the State Need Grant and other state student financial aid programs – which will help to meet workforce needs and close our skill gap. The presentation also provided an opportunity for campuses to highlight their 2017-19 operating and capital budget priorities.

Also on Tuesday COP held its legislative reception in Olympia. This annual event provides an opportunity for Washington state’s public baccalaureate leaders to thank policymakers for their support of postsecondary education as well as to promote current objectives to state leaders. COP Chair and WSU President Kirk Schulz thanked those in attendance for their support of higher education and noted the current collaboration between Washington’s public and private four- and two-year colleges and universities. In addition to members of the House and Senate, we were joined by leaders from myriad partner education agencies and organizations.

COP staff also testified on legislation in both the House and Senate related to student financial aid, student financial literacy, and student loan debt. The Senate Higher Education Committee also received an updated on the accreditation and admission timeline for WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine as well as the UW’s WWAMI medical education program expansion in Spokane.

Committee action continues next week with work sessions in the Senate on student textbooks, teaching requirements for faculty, student loan debt, and trends in the cost of room and board. Hearings in both higher education committees will cover topics including student financial aid, for-profit college regulation, and workforce programs.

All our presentation materials and testimony are available online at:  http://www.councilofpresidents.org/index-3_issues.html

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Legislative Week in Review

COP staff spent much of rainy week two of the legislative session giving presentations to policymakers. On Tuesday, Executive Director Paul Francis presented to the Senate Higher Education Committee on our joint agenda with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and Independent Colleges of Washington, Washington Competes. That was followed by brief presentations by our legislative directors on the operating and capital budget priorities for each respective campus. Members noted items of consistent need in institutional requests, including student support services, STEM/high demand programs, student financial aid, and investments in quality.

Key challenges for Washington include:

  • Below average funding for public colleges and universities
  • Low high school graduation rates
  • Low 4-year college participation rates
  • Persistent gaps between degree production and employer demand in key fields

On Thursday morning Paul Francis presented to the House Education Committee on the ways in which COP and our colleges and universities interact with the K-12 system in Washington state. Key areas of focus include teacher preparation, dual/concurrent enrollment, postsecondary outreach and access, high school graduation/college entrance alignment, and prevention/early awareness programs. Other organizations and agencies also presented, including the Department of Early Learning and the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.

Also on Thursday COP Director of Policy and Academic Affairs Julie Garver presented on the work of the Accelerated Degree Programs Work Group established in the 2016 supplemental operating budget. Policymakers directed the Work Group to study the benefits, challenges, and best practices surrounding accelerated degree programs and report back their findings and recommendations. The Work Group identified four best practices:

  • Accelerated degree pathways must be either institutional or sector led.
  • Accelerated degree pathways should be considered one of many pathways students may pursue to earn a degree.
  • Communication with students should be clear both about the presence and requirements of accelerated degree pathways.
  • Cohort models should be considered in the design and implementation of accelerated degree pathways.

All our presentation materials and testimony are available online at:  http://www.councilofpresidents.org/index-3_issues.html

COP staff also testified on pertinent legislation in both the House and Senate.  Next week the House Higher Education Committee will hold hearings on legislation concerning faculty compensation, student financial aid, and student loan debt. The Senate Higher Education Committee will hear bills related to teacher preparation programs, student financial literacy, student loans, and workforce development. The committee will also receive updates on WSU’s recently created Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the UW’s WWAMI Medical Education Program expansion in Spokane, and an update from the Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board on their Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act Strategic Action Plan.

First Week of Legislative Session Kicks Off

The 2017 legislative session kicked off this past Monday. Council of Presidents staff hit the ground running with a number of meetings with policymakers and staff. Those meetings afford us the opportunity to highlight our joint 2017 legislative agenda with the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges and Independent Colleges of Washington – Washington Competes.

On Tuesday representatives from the Campus Sexual Violence Prevention Task Force – staffed by COP – presented to the House Higher Ed Committee on their work over the past 18 months. Panelists spoke about the work related to both prevention and response, organized through seven subcommittees and leading to three reports to policymakers.

COP staff also participated on a panel to discuss the work of the Mental Health and Suicide Prevention in Higher Education Task Force created in HB 1138 (2015). Meeting materials are available here and a video archive of the work session is available here.

On Thursday the Senate Higher Ed Committee – under the leadership of new Chair Senator Lynda Wilson – heard from the Washington Roundtable on their recent report – “Washington Kids 4 Washington Jobs”. According to the report, there will be 740,000 job openings in our state in the next five years. The majority of those jobs will require some postsecondary education or training.

Also on Wednesday the newly statewide elected officials – including State School Superintendent Chris Reykdal – were sworn in. Governor Inslee also gave his state of the state speech, focusing the majority of it on K-12 education.

Legislative committees have already begun hearing bills in the respective policy committees; we expect that to pick up next week as policymakers consider legislation related to student financial aid, student loan debt, educational programs for incarcerated adults, and more. On Tuesday morning, January 17 COP staff will present on our Washington Competes proposal to the Senate Higher Ed Committee. Our legislative directors will then highlight session priorities for each of the public baccalaureates that complement Washington Competes.