Posted by Dann Mead Smith on Jan 23, 2019
Our program featuring the presidents of Washington State University and the University of Washington in a moderated discussion by KUOW’s Ross Reynolds on affordable college education was introduced by our member Craig Wright, the Assistant Dean for Advancement at the UW School of Law.  Craig introduced Kirk Schulz as the 11th president of Washington State University who came to our state from Kansas State University in 2016; and Ani Mari Cauce as the UW’s 33rd president who has been on the UW faculty since 1986.
The Yes, It’s Possible campaign was launched during Apple Cup week last fall. It’s a joint effort between the UW and WSU to highlight that public higher education is not just possible, but that it is easily within reach for our state’s students. They are trying to “counter the misinformation from some in the general public” and from media stories.  “We are leaving too much talent on the sidelines,” they said.
 Some interesting statistics that the two university presidents mentioned were:
  • Half of the students at our state’s universities graduate with no debt.
  • State college tuition is a lot closer to $10,000 per year than the $20-30,000 that some perceive it to be.
  • People don’t know about all of the different programs that are available at each school and at the other state public universities and colleges. There is a “financially viable way to send students to their schools.”
  • UW, WSU, and other public universities in our state receive less state funding currently than they did in 2008 even with thousands of more students now enrolled.
Ross asked whether they were equipped to handle more students if this campaign is successful and they said “yes,” as they could work with their branch campuses, and local community colleges, and could also build out infrastructure depending on the demand and new state funding.  WSU also has a partnership with Everett Community College where students can receive “co-admission” from day one so they are encouraging students to get a four-year education as they enter community college.
They encouraged prospective students “to get on campus and talk about options with their financial aid offices.”  This new campaign is the “culmination of the first step of something that both institutions can work on together.  They have a place to go, we have students (in our state) that have the desire.”
Some of the questions they answered included:
What is their top legislative priority for this year: more funding for higher education in our state in order to “maintain and keep quality up, we need state investment.”  Washington ranks among the bottom ten states in the number of high school students who go on to become college graduates and we need to change that, they said. “We need to understand why, and not just throw more money at it.  The investment per student by the state is close to the bottom.”  They are hoping that “last year was the year of McCleary (K-12 education) funding and that 2019 will be the year of higher ed.”
This week’s Greet-n-Grin was “how did you cover your own college tuition” based on today’s theme of higher education.  David Woodward with Burr Stewart on the piano then kicked off the meeting with the official state folk song, Roll on Columbia to celebrate our two guest speakers from the UW and WSU.  Jane Tornatore inspired us on the value of an education by referencing a New York Times column by David Brooks.  President Cindy introduced our member, Lisa Bridge the new CEO of Ben Bridge Jewelers, who drew the recipient of the Recruiter Rewards program, Jaime Mendez, who received a nice gift from Ben Bridge for bringing in new club members.  
President Cindy recognized our members who are new Paul Harris award recipients based on their financial support of The Rotary Foundation and then had all Paul Harris fellows stand. She showed a moving video about the important work of Rotary International that highlighted Paralympian Dennis Ogbe who is a polio survivor.  “Let’s finish and finish strong,” was the message on eradicating polio. And President Cindy talked about the other important work of Rotary that is accomplished by our support as Paul Harris fellows, including eradicating malaria, spreading peace and developing sustainable solutions to poverty.
Fedva Dikmen announced her next ethnic fellowship dinner which will be at an Indian restaurant in February --see the Totem for details.  She also mentioned and asked for our help with the Rotary Cares committee which she chairs and has over 50 members.  They send well wishes to our club’s members that are celebrating something special like a wedding or a new job and also caring notes to those that are sick or have lost a loved one, etc.  Please let her know when you hear important news about one of our members so Rotary Cares can follow up.
Sten Crissey talked about the impact of Rotary First Harvest and encouraged us to attend their upcoming annual fundraiser, Hearts and Wine, on February 8th.
President Cindy concluded the meeting with the quote, "If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."   
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