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WSU Celebrates Urban Campuses, 25 Years of Expanded Access

September 25, 2014

Access is at the heart of who we are and what we do as the state’s land-grant research university: access to a quality education as well as access to the new knowledge generated by our scientists and researchers. This year we celebrate one of the most dramatic strides in providing that access to Washingtonians in our institutional history – creation of urban campuses at Spokane, Tri Cities and Vancouver.

It was 1987 when Washington State’s Higher Education Coordinating Board first concluded that access to bachelor and graduate level higher education programs was sorely lacking for our state’s growing population. Just two years later, in 1989, the Washington Legislature established WSU’s three urban campuses. From humble beginnings and with the full support of the state and their home communities, these campuses have developed into thriving hubs of teaching, research, and outreach. In fact, enrollment at all three hit record highs this fall.

Each campus has grown in unique ways that align with the needs and challenges of their communities and the state.

WSU Spokane is WSU’s health sciences campus and is the only campus other than Pullman to house academic colleges – the College of Pharmacy, the College of Nursing and the newly created College of Medical Sciences. It will be the home of the new separately accredited medical school we are pursuing to produce the additional primary physicians our state so desperately needs and to expand the opportunities to attend medical school that our best and brightest deserve.

WSU Tri Cities is the only public baccalaureate institution in southeastern Washington offering a range of degree programs, especially in engineering and the sciences. The campus has strong community support and partnerships, especially with the nearby Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and the region’s booming wine industry. It is the home of WSU’s new Wine Science Center and a hub for bioproducts research.

WSU Vancouver is the only four-year research university in southwestern Washington and offers undergraduate and graduate degrees in more than 40 fields of study, including creative media and digital culture, environmental science, mechanical engineering, psychology, and public affairs. The community credits WSU Vancouver with being a key player in the overall economic development and prosperity of the region.

The impact of WSU’s urban campuses over the past 25 years is testimony to the power of higher education as an economic driver and a force that improves the lives of Washingtonians across the state. That truly is cause for celebration. Thousands of faculty, staff, students and community members gathered on the WSU Vancouver campus earlier this month to mark the occasion with a wide range of activities. WSU Spokane’s celebration occurs tonight, and WSU Tri-Cities’ celebration is scheduled for this Saturday.

Here’s to the next 25 years!