Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion.
Trustees Hear Discussion on K-16 Education Continuum
Western’s Board of Trustees on Feb. 12 during its meeting in Seattle heard a panel discussion on “K-16 Education: Opportunities and Challenges” led by Francisco Rios, dean of Western’s Woodring College of Education.
The overall goal was to engage leaders in the K-16 education sector in a dialogue with the Board of Trustees about the role that public higher education, and Western in particular, has in addressing the continuum of education and workforce needs in the state of Washington.
Joining Rios on the panel were Paul Francis, executive director of the Council of Presidents; Betty Patu, chair of the Seattle Public Schools Board; Rachelle Sharpe, deputy director, Washington Student Achievement Council; and Jan Yoshiwara, deputy executive director for Education Services for the Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges.
The panel discussed an “opportunity gap” facing many lower-income and students of color in this state who often encounter barriers to accessing higher education. Factors impacting K-16 education include changing demographics in the state; job force needs increasingly requiring higher education; and a growing number of eligible and qualified students who cannot get financial aid because funding runs out.
Panelists said the state benefits from great collaborations among K-12 and higher education but that barriers for smooth transitions still exist. For instance, low-income students who live in communities without a four-year university near them often face many obstacles to transfer to a university.
Yoshiwara noted that state community and technical colleges often recruit instructors from Western master’s programs, and she singled out Western’s SMATE (Science, Math and Technology Education) program for praise. Panelists also discussed the need for more K-12 teachers and higher education faculty of color.
Patu said Seattle Schools are facing many challenges and she welcomed increased collaboration and engagement with Western.
In other business, the trustees:
- On Friday, Feb. 12, during AS President Belina Seare’s report time, a group of students who said they are the Student Assembly for Power and Liberation, read a statement to the trustees on safety concerns by students of color. They asked that trustees attend a meeting on Feb. 26.
- Heard a presentation by Edward Geary, director of SMATE and Geology professor, on “Change at the Core: A Collaborative Model for Undergraduate STEM Education Reform (C-Core),” which is a National Science Foundation-funded institutional transformation project. Three institutions, Western Washington University, Whatcom Community College, and Skagit Valley College, are working together to transform courses in Biology, Chemistry, Computer Science, Engineering, Environmental Science, Geology, Mathematics, and Physics from teacher- to student-centered learning environments.
- Approved 2016 Summer Session Tuition and fees.
- Heard a report by Eileen Coughlin, senior vice president and vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, on planning for on campus student housing.
- Trustee Sue Sharpe, chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, provided an update on the search for a new president. Sharpe said that 70 applications have been received. “The quality of the candidates is exceptional,” Sharpe said.
- Becca Kenna-Schenk, director of Government Relations, provided an update on the current 60-day legislative session.
- Stephanie Bowers, vice president for University Advancement and president/CEO of the WWU Foundation, provided an update on activities at Western’s Seattle office. * Bowers provided information about WWU’s Western Stands for Washington Campaign.
- For more information on the trustees’ meeting, see: Meeting Materials. The date for the next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees is April 7 and 8.