News from local colleges

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Here at Bellevue College, the vast majority of students are attaining an Associate’s Degree to transfer away to a four-year university. Many students transfer to an in-state school; namely, the University of Washington or Washington State University. Both these colleges have a lot going on, with recent budget cuts especially

The University of Washington, located in Seattle, is the largest college in the state. They have been around for exactly 150 years and are currently hosting a large event celebrating this special anniversary.  The UW is famous as a medical and bioresearch school, but they provide other majors from law to dance to Scandinavian studies. The UW was hit very hard with the latest budget cuts; it’s estimated that during this biennium, the UW will lose $190 million.

Much like BC’s search for a new president, the UW has a committee dedicated to finding the university a new Provost.  They are currently in the stages of open forums, searching for input from students and other faculty.

While news about higher education has been largely negative lately, some good news is still to be found. For example, at the UW, assistant professor Shwetak Patel has just won the prestigious MacArthur ‘genius’ award for his easily and cheaply produced device that can measure household energy consumption. Winning this award has given Patel $500,000 of support for the next five years.

Patel isn’t the only recipient of a reward at the UW. The OneBusAway program, developed at the UW, has just won a Vision 2040 award. This program gives real time arrivals for buses via mobile phones and the internet.

Of course, more than just awards are happening at this college. UW medical  researchers are studying the effects of hormonal contraception on women. The results of their study seem to be showing that this contraceptive increases the risk of HIV.

In the area of research, the UW has also been given a $40 million grant to research effective biofuel creation techniques. Washington State University received the same grant. The two largest schools in Washington are working together on this project, combining UW’s research labs with WSU’s agricultural studies.

Washington State University is the second largest school in the state, and one to which many BC students apply upon completion of an Associate’s degree. They have faced budget cuts of over $112 million, yet they have also been the recipient of approximately $70 million in grants and investments in the past few weeks.

Apart from the $40 million biofuel grant, WSU has also been given a $27 million gift from fruit growers in the Eastern Washington area to support tree and fruit research at the university. It is the largest single investment ever given to WSU.

These grants and investments only cover the specific areas into which they were donated. WSU has taken many hard hits due to budget, and has been forced to raise tuition over 11 percent and let in the largest freshman class the university as ever seen.

Despite its diminishing resources, WSU is currently in the process of completely redoing its computer and technological system. This system has not been changed for over twenty years; the university is planning on making this an all-year project.

For the largest freshman class ever, WSU just hosted the largest career fair in the northwest.  The event was put on by the Center for Advising and Career Development to help the over 4200 new students decide definitively on a major.

WSU and UW are not the only four -year universities in Washington; they are simply the largest, the only schools in the state larger than Bellevue College, and many BC students transfer to these universities when they finish their time here. Despite huge budget setbacks, these colleges are still advancing.