This week marked a significant win for higher education in Washington State as the Washington Legislature passed one of its most innovative budgets in decades. Over the next two years, the budget will raise hundreds of millions of dollars to, among other things, boost college financial aid and increase funding for high-demand degree programs. It will provide increased foundational funding that will better support our faculty and staff. And, it fully funds the State Need Grant – now, the Washington College Grant – increasing equity and opportunity for all Washington students.
We also want to acknowledge the Legislature’s vote to approve Initiative 1000, repealing I-200’s ban on the use of affirmative action policies in education, government employment, and contracting. Gov. Jay Inslee and three former Washington governors - our School's namesake Daniel J. Evans, Honorary Advisory Board Member Christine Gregoire, and long-time Evans School champion Gary Locke - testified last week in favor of I-1000. This is a landmark moment in our efforts to combat institutional discrimination and improve the UW’s ability to attract not only the most talented students from underrepresented backgrounds, but also talented and diverse faculty and staff and business and industry partners.
The budget approval process was a collective effort by many people who advocated passionately on our behalf, not only for the University of Washington, but for all of the public higher education institutions that are serving students and communities in our state. In fact, our own Sen. Christine Rolfes (MPA ’91), Democratic budget lead and Chair of the Ways and Means Committee, provided leadership in driving a budget that she noted, “represents the values of the entire state.” We applaud our state's strong leadership and the activism of the Evans School community.
These important gains demonstrate what we can achieve when vision, conviction and tireless effort are applied to the policy process in service to public good. As President Ana Mari Cauce noted in her blog on these much-needed investments, “we can create change that advances a more prosperous, educated, and equitable world.” As we enter into the final weeks of Spring quarter, let us be reminded of our comittment to public service and the real impact that public policy and management can have on our state and our communities.