Workers install new 'college town' banners in Poulsbo as planning gets underway for future expansion
WWU President Sabah Randhawa recently visited Poulsbo to kick-off a fundraising drive to establish a Western-sponsored Small Business Development Center in Poulsbo. Western has hosted the largest SBDC program in the state since 1983. Last year, the Whatcom County SBDC helped create or save more than 300 jobs and helped small businesses access nearly $13 million in capital to expand and launch new ventures.The new Poulsbo SBDC will be located in the just-opened Vibe CoWorks space. Western alumnus and President and Chief Operating Officer of Kitsap Bank Tony George is leading the fundraising drive.
Later in the day, President Randhawa joined Olympic College President Marty Cavalluzzi and leadership from the two universities to discuss planning for expansion on the Peninsulas.
“The speed and scale of an aspirational step forward on the Peninsulas is highly dependent on resources,” Randhawa said. “Over the next six months, we’ll be working with our community college partners at both Olympic College and Peninsula College to study new educational program needs, existing program growth and the resources need for a long-term, multi-phase expansion on the Peninsulas based on our successful 2+2 model,” he said.
A 2+2 model allows students to attend a community college for the first two years and then easily transfer credits to the university for the final two years. Students can earn both an associates’ and bachelor’s degree in four years often at a lower tuition rate.
Western has offered baccalaureate and certificate programs for more than 20 years in Port Angeles and Bremerton in partnership with Peninsula and Olympic Colleges, and since 2013 at the Western University Center at Olympic College Poulsbo. These programs span business administration, cybersecurity, environmental science and policy, and elementary and special education.
Last year, Western was asked by the state legislature to conduct a feasibility study on expansion of educational programs on the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas. The report, submitted to the Governor’s office in January, found significant unmet educational need across the four-county region due in part to the distance from existing educational instruction sites, the availability of transportation, and especially in remote rural areas of the region, internet connectivity is a challenge.
Western’s commitment to the Peninsulas also extends to Pouslbo’s SEA Discovery Center which serves as an important marine environmental education resource for local school districts, families and visitors, and as a research center for Western faculty and students involved in the marine sciences.