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Inslee on Med School flap: We can work it out

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee downplayed any conflict between the state's two research universities over operations at the new joint medical school facility in Spokane, saying he wouldn't even call it a disagreement.

“I'm confident that we can find a way that Huskies and Cougars can work together on this,” Inslee said during a press conference this afternoon.

As to whether the state would build a new, complete medical school in Spokane if the two universities can't come to an understanding, Inslee said that is “getting a thousand miles ahead of ourselves.”

As reported in this morning's Spokesman-Review, Washington State University President Elson Floyd said the University of Washington is not sending enough second-year medical students to the new program at the Riverpoint campus in Spokane that the two are jointly operating. The school will have only 17 students for the 20 slots approved by the Legislature for a pilot program, and Floyd criticized UW for not recruiting enough students to fill the slots.

If UW won't cooperate, WSU will “plow our own way” and explore setting up its own four-year med school, Floyd said.

UW President Michael Young said only 17 students were interested in the Spokane program. To the suggestion that WSU would set up its own med school, Young said, “Good luck.” Floyd doesn't understand how a med school is run.

Inslee said he talked to people about the med school when he was in Spokane over the weekend and “I'm confident in our ability to work through this.”

WSU cancels afternoon classes on Halloween

COUGARS

WSU announced Thursday that it will cancel all afternoon classes on the Pullman campus on Oct. 31, which is when the Cougars host Arizona State. It's also a Thursday night. It's also Halloween. Here's the release from the office of president Elson Floyd:

In an effort to increase the number of conference football games given national television exposure each season, the PAC-12 has significantly increased the number of regular-season conference football games scheduled to be played on Thursday and Friday nights.

As a result, at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 31, Washington State University will host Arizona State University in a conference football game at Martin Stadium, affording us the opportunity to share the beauty of our unique Pullman campus before a national television audience in a broadcast carried by one of the ESPN family of networks. This is a rare opportunity for our university. It is also the first time since 2005 that WSU has played a Thursday home football game, so it presents some special challenges.

In an effort to address those challenges, I solicited input from our athletic director as to best industry practices from around the country. I also have reached out to the Faculty Senate Executive Committee as well as the Deans Council for their input on this important issue. After taking all recommendations into account, I have authorized that attendance to all classes the morning of Oct. 31 be made optional at the discretion of faculty and that all afternoon classes that day be canceled as part of our efforts to ensure the safety and ease of travel throughout campus for faculty, staff, students and fans. This closure solely affects the Pullman campus.

Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support.

WSU appoints David Cillay to new post of VP of the Global Campus

Washington State University has created a new VP position, vice president of the Global Campus. Yes, WSU likes to capitalize the idea — Global Campus.

They've chosen WSU veteran David Cillay to take on the job. The goal is to find key ways for the campus and its stakeholders to make better use of digital technology.

The Global Campus was launched in July.  Elson Floyd, WSU's president, laid out the key targets for the new effort:

  • Expand WSU’s educational market share
  • Support faculty in developing and implementing technology and pedagogical innovation
  • Ensure that WSU remains open and accessible through digital and eLearning tools and strategies

Cillay said the new goals of the Global Campus also include evaluating emerging models for non-traditional higher education program delivery, disseminating WSU research to a global audience and helping the university navigate the evolving regulations that govern eLearning.

One of Cillay's efforts at WSU included using the online world Second Life as a teaching and recruitment tool. The photo here is from a Spokesman.com story that appeared in 2008.

In the photo, Cillay posed in front of his Second Life alter-ego. Cillay uses the game to interact and educate students and people interested in WSU.

Inslee names transition team

Governor-elect Jay Inslee named a three-person transition team today comprised of a school superintendent, a software executive and a university president as he put out a call for talent “every single place we can find it.”

Inslee appointed Washington State University President Elson Floyd, Microsoft corporate counsel Brad Smith and Renton Schools Superintendent Mary Alice Heuschel to lead his search for a new department heads when he takes office in July. The trio of “change agents” represents the kind of state government he said he wants to develop, from both sides of the Cascades, from different industries and from public and private sectors.

Floyd said he welcomed the opportunity to help position the state for economic growth: “We have an incredible talent base here in our state.”

At the same time, he put out a call for Democrats, Republicans and independents who want help the state address what he called its great challenges. The state has struggled since the recession with declining revenues that don't cover its planned programs, and now faces a court mandate to increase spending on public schools to meet its constitutional obligations.

In responding to questions that followed his announcement . . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

WSU, Pac-12 will investigate Marquess Wilson claims

COUGARS

FROM PULLMAN — In a statement released this morning, WSU president Elson Floyd announced he has asked the school's athletic department, as well as the Pac-12, to independently investigate Marquess Wilson's claims of abuse by the coaching staff.

Here is the statement:

“After consultation with WSU Athletic Director Bill Moos, I have asked our athletic department to fully review recent allegations raised concerning the football program and report their findings and conclusions as soon as possible. Simultaneously, I have asked the Pac-12 to independently do the same. Together, both reports should get to the bottom of the matter.”

For more on Wilson, click here.

Christian Caple can be reached at christianc@spokesman.com. Twitter: @ChristianCaple

Wonder who makes what, working for the state? We can show you

To search the updated database of state employees' salaries, click here.

OLYMPIA – The best-paying state jobs in Washington are still in academia, with the very best in athletics.

The annual listing of salaries for all state employees shows once again that the biggest paychecks in 2011 went to staff at either the University of Washington or Washington State University, with the top five going to coaches of the two schools’ football and basketball teams.

Husky football coach Steve Sarkisian tops the list of state employees with an annual salary topping $2.5 million. He also saw the biggest increase from 2010, with an increase of $546,000.

University officials are always quick to point out, however, that salaries for coaches and the other athletic departments’ staffs don’t come out of state tax dollars. They are covered by a combination of ticket sales and broadcast revenues.

UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar is second, with a little more than $1.2 million. WSU basketball coach Ken Bone, former WSU football coach Paul Wulff and former UW assistant coach Nick Holt round out the top five before the first non-coach, WSU President Elson Floyd shows up on the list at $625,000.

The list represents all payments made to state employees. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here

Some like it not: cherry growers didn’t agree to tax themselves for WSU gift

Our take-away from Washington State University's announcement of a $27 million gift from Washington's fruit tree industry is the diversity with which growers responded to a plan to tax themselves in order to raise that amount.

Apple and pear growers said, OK, we'll do it. Cherry and stone-fruit growers voted no. The question was formally presented as a yes-no vote put to the state's fruit growers, with each group having a say on whether it would tax itself.

The increases — or proposed increases — are in addition to existing annual assessments self-imposed fees that fruit growers in Washington now pay.

The $27 million is the largest single gift to WSU in its history.

Apple and pear growers approved paying a special project fee of an additional $1 per ton for the WSU fund. Cherry growers rejected a $4 per ton special surtax. Stone fruit guys said no to an extra $1 per ton charge.

Separate ballots were mailed for growers in the  apple, pear, cherry and stone fruit categories.  About 57 percent of apple growers —  450 —  approved the $1 per ton assessment dedicated to WSU research and extension.

Of the 265 ballots cast by pear growers, 148, or 56 percent, approved a $1 per ton assessment for WSU research and extension.

Cherry and stone fruit growers did not approve the special project assessment, with 56 and 57 percent opposed, respectively.

Cougs help out

PULLMAN – Faced with a $40 million budget cut in the biennium that ends with the 2013 fiscal year, Washington State University president Elson Floyd is looking for help wherever he can find it. And he will get some from his athletic department.

When the Pac-12’s expanded media deal kicks in next school year, the department will assume academic service costs previously covered by the administration. “It’s in an excess of a half-million dollars,” athletic director Bill Moos said. Vince Grippi, SR  More here.

Do you think more university athletic departments should do this?