Wednesday, November 30, 2022
Nov. 30, 2022

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WSU Vancouver projects on the table as regents meet

Board gathers on Vancouver campus to preview construction plans

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
5 Photos
The Washington State University Board of Regents meet at the Firstenburg Student Commons on the Vancouver campus Friday morning. Regents moved to approve projects on the Pullman and Vancouver campuses.
The Washington State University Board of Regents meet at the Firstenburg Student Commons on the Vancouver campus Friday morning. Regents moved to approve projects on the Pullman and Vancouver campuses. (James Rexroad/For the Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Washington State University Board of Regents wrapped up a series of meetings at the Vancouver campus on Friday morning, with a focus on finalizing a handful of infrastructure projects. The board typically holds one round of such meetings at Vancouver each year, often in November.

While keeping a primary focus on matters at the school’s Pullman campus, the meetings across Thursday and Friday provided some insight into one key project and updated enrollment statistics here.

In his presentation to the board Friday morning, WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer pointed to two metrics that might provide insight into the campus’ future.

According to Netzhammer, Vancouver has 2,833 students as of fall 2022 — a decrease of 12.4 percent compared to fall 2021. Despite the decrease, he noted that this fall was the first in school history that they accepted more first-year students than transfers.

“When I started a decade ago, two-thirds of our students came from Clark College alone and another 10 percent came from other community colleges,” Netzhammer said. “This is a significant change for our campus… It raises different questions about how we recruit and how we support our student body.”

In turn, the change is causing the students’ average age — which for years has been somewhere around 27 — to decrease to about 25. The campus is continuing its progress toward a more diverse student body, too, now with 47 percent of first-year students and 36 percent of transfer students being students of color. Between 2009 and 2020, the campus saw a 163 percent increase among students of color.

The board also approved a $4.96 million increase in funding for Vancouver’s Life Sciences Building, allowing for the addition of a greenhouse. Construction on the new building broke ground on Nov. 18, 2021, and is expected to be completed for student use in fall 2023. The additional funding is expected to come in part from the Washington Office of Financial Management.

The board approved costs and plans for two major projects on the main campus in Pullman: the Taylor Sports Complex and the Schweitzer Engineering Hall. The sports complex, which will feature a new practice facility, is anticipated to cost between $24 million and $27.4 million; the engineering hall should cost approximately $80 million, paid from a combination of state and private funding.

The board also moved to rename the Pullman campus’ President’s House after noted faculty member Ida Lou Anderson, who mentored a young Edward R. Murrow before his ascent to the halls of journalism lore.

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