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Murray steers clear of med school controversy

SEATTLE – As she pushed for more graduate-level physician training in the region, Sen. Patty Murray did her best Wednesday to steer clear of the controversy over who should operate the fledgling medical school in Spokane.

Murray, who has introduced legislation to extend federal money for primary care residency programs, toured a south Seattle clinic that benefits from such a program. Specialists outnumber primary care and family doctors in America about 2-to-1, she was told, in part because specialists make more and have an easier time paying off the $250,000 in debts the average medical student has when finishing all training.

Washington could be short as many as 1,700 doctors by 2030, she said. The need for primary care physicians is already acute in poor urban neighborhoods like South Park, where she was visiting the Sea Mar Community Health Center, and rural areas.

Would that shortage be helped better by a second medical school in the state operated by Washington State University, or by having the Spokane-based school continue to be part of the control of the University of Washington's program, she was asked. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Innovate WA on the chopping block

OLYMPIA – A state agency with roots in Spokane’s 1980s push to attract more high-tech jobs to the region would be eliminated under legislation approved this week by the House.

Innovate Washington would cease to exist and its Riverpoint building, leases on other office space in the area, reports and even furniture would be turned over to Washington State University under a bill that passed Thursday evening on an 88-9 vote… .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

Lege ethics rules on football tickets

OLYMPIA– A legislator who accepts an invitation to a Husky or Cougar football game to sit in the university president's box with all the complimentary food and drinks isn’t breaking any ethics rules.

A legislator who takes a couple of free tickets to take a friend or family member to a game and sit in the stands with the rest of the fans is breaking those rules, even if buying his or her own hot dogs, soda and kettle corn.

With college football season just starting up, the attorney for the Legislative Ethics Committee reiterated these long-standing rules Thursday at the panel’s monthly meeting after staff received several inquiries from new legislators about what's OK and not OK. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

 

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 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.

UI, WSU officials looking into repeated student falls from frats…

Here's a news item from the Associated Press: MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) ― University officials are trying to figure out how to respond after a series of falls from buildings that have injured students at the University of Idaho and Washington State University campuses. But they also acknowledge the challenge of changing student attitudes on alcohol and dangerous behavior. Washington State University Dean of Students Melynda Huskey says more needs to be done to help educate students on risky behavior. But she also says males in their early 20s aren't always the best judges of personal risk. Since September, the Lewiston Tribune reports (http://bit.ly/TvTIVM ) there have been five cases of students suffering injuries after falling from buildings at both campuses. Alcohol was a factor in four of five falls. WSU has created an alcohol and drug task force as part of its response.

Click below for a full report.

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.

City hearing on Jensen-Byrd building demolition postponed until October

Update on the Jensen-Byrd building and plans to demolish it (see earlier story).

The City of Spokane's Hearing Examiner's office has postponed today's scheduled hearing, which was to hear an appeal by opponents of Campus Advantage, the Texas firm planning to tear down the structure and replace it with modern student housing. The opponents, Spokane Preservation Advocates, contend the issuance of the demolition permit is not valid.

The advocates filed the appeal earlier this year. This week the group and Campus Advantage agreed to postpone the hearing until Oct. 17, at 9 a.m.  Until the hearing is held, Campus Advantage cannot move forward with plans to tear down the industrial warehouse, which has been unused for several years.

Just wondering

Did you cross paths with “The Far Side” creator Gary Larson when he was a student at WSU? How about Tom Tuttle?

Can the preservationists save the Jensen Byrd Building? What’s next?

Haven't seen enough information about the Jensen Byrd building and its prospects for survival?

Look for our indepth story in Tuesday's Spokesman Review business section, covering efforts to keep it from the wrecking ball

This past year the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation added the 103-year-old JB Building to its Most Endangered list. Here is some information. http://wa-trust.org/News34.aspx.

That follows last December's announced sale of the building to Campus Advantage, which has plans to replace it with modern student housing.

The Jensen Byrd was also nominated for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2012 Most Endangered list, but it was not selected; the national most-endangererd list was published this past week:  http://www.preservationnation.org/issues/11-most-endangered/

The national organization said it declined to add the Jensen Byrd to the list because statements by Washington State University, who is still the owner, suggest it won't face demolition until no earlier than 2013.

WSU in NYT: The Anti-Christ in politics

Not sure how often this happens, but over the weekend, a guest column by a Washington State University professor was featured in the New York Times.

Matthew Sutton, an associate professor of history at WSU, writes about the prospect that the apocalyptic beliefs of some fundamentalist Christians might help knock Barack Obama out of the White House and elect the GOP nominee.

It's called “Why the Anti-Christ Matters in Politics.”

It's an interesting premise, whether you ultimately believe it or not.

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.

Classic angling books featured in $1.8 million gift to WSU

FISHING HISTORY – English scholars have a new run of information to explore in the Palouse, thanks to a Spokane couple. Washington State University has netted an historic collection of classic angling literature valued at $1.8 million.

The unusually fine collection includes treasures such as a complete set of 19 first editions of Henry Abbot’s privately printed birch books, Oswald Crawfurd’s personal, annotated copy of “The Compleatest Angling Booke,” and a first edition (1653) of Izaak Walton’s “The Compleat Angler.”

“The Compleat Angler” is, along with the Bible, “one of the most popular books ever published in English,” said Trevor James Bond, head of the WSU Libraries’ department of Manuscripts, Archives and Special Collections.

Joan and Vernon Gallup of Spokane donated the fine catch of more than 15,000 rare books related to angling, natural history and outdoor sports. Get a glimpse of the Gallups and the donated volumes in this short video.

Assembled over decades from American and British dealers, the collection is three times the size of well known angling collections at Princeton University and the University of New Hampshire, WSU officials say.

Standout volumes include 'The Fresh Water Fishes of Great Britain,' by Sarah Bowdich, who ground scales from fish and mixed them in her paints to vividly illustrate her book.

It’s the largest single gift of rare books in the MASC’s 120-year history, putting WSU at the forefront of such collections nationally and internationally, Bond said.

Read on for more details about the collection and a reception honoring the Gallups.

See some Pollock, Warhol, Johns at WSU

The Washington State Museum of Art has won a $10,000 grant from the Robert Lehman Foundation for an upcoming exhibition and book project titled, “Works on Paper: American Art 1945-1975.”

It will run at the museum from October through December and will include works by Willem de Kooning, Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Richard Serra and Andy Warhol, to name just a few of the 52 artists.

In other words, it's a chance to see works by many of the biggest artists of the era.

A full color book, produced by the museum, will accompany the exhibit.

Grazing doesn’t quickly improve wildlife forage, WSU researchers say

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — Researchers say a cattle grazing project on the Asotin Wildlife Area has reduced overall forage without making significant immediate improvements in the nutritional value of the remainig forage for wildlife.

The study results and information from ongoing research is set to be released next week by Washington State University.

The research is central to an ongoing debate over the appropriateness of grazing on state land managed for wildlife habitat and hunting and fishing, according to a story by Eric Barker of the Lewiston Tribune.

Some conservation groups have opposed the research worked out in agreements with cattle ranchers and the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

Concern for allowing grazing on state-managed wildlife lands is understandable. But one must be wary of the contempt for the attempt to research the theory that controlled livestock grazing might stimulate better forage for wildlife.

Read on for details from the Lewiston Tribune report.

16YO Youngest To Get WSU Degree

A 16-year-old will become the youngest person on record to graduate from Washington State University this May. Kayla Heard of Union, Washington, could talk when she was 1, and read at 18 months. She started first grade at age 3, graduated from high school at 10, and began community college at 11. Kayla is home-schooled and is earning her social sciences degree though WSU online. “My parents felt it wouldn't be good to send me to a campus at such a young age,” she said. “I appreciate their decision, mainly because online studying has given me quite a bit of flexibility in my schedule”/Eric Wilkinson, KING5. More here.

Question: How old were you when you received your college degree?

White Nationalists On WSU Campus?

Since its creation last fall, a conservative student group at Washington State University has set up a chain-link fence on campus to protest illegal immigration, launched a controversial newspaper, and rallied in favor of “Straight Pride.” Those public events have brought attention to the local chapter and its parent organization, Youth for Western Civilization. The goal of the seven-member chapter is to revive Western civilization and make it the dominant culture in the U.S., according to Phil Tignino, the student coordinator for the WSU chapter. “I don't think the U.S. should be known as the country that is home to every culture, language and belief system in the world,” said Tignino, a 22-year-old political science major from Los Angeles/Andrea Castillo, WSU Murrow News Service. More here. H/T: Obusmax

Question: The Southern Poverty Law Center says Youth for Western Civilization is promoting white nationalism at Washington State. Do you agree? Or do you consider this group relatively harmless?

WSU study tests new vaccine for bighorn sheep

WILDLIFE RESEARCH — Reseachers may finally be on track of a tool to deal with the diseases wreaking havoc with bighorn sheep herds in the West.

 A Washington State University wildlife disease researcher has produced an experimental vaccine that appears to have protected four bighorn sheep against deadly pneumonia.

Subramaniam Srikumaran, the WSU professor in Pullman, says his findings are a promising but concedes years of work remain to help safeguard wild bighorn herds from periodic die-offs that have plagued the species in Idaho.

Read on for more details from an Associated Press report:

WSU, UI students to protest lax immigration

Conservative student groups from Washington State University and University of Idaho say they plan to put up a chain-link fence on Terrell Mall today to protest illegal immigration.

The groups include College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty and Youth for Western Civilization. (The last sounds like a group that's a big fan of the college survey course that studies history, art and literature from Ancient Greece and Rome up through modern European and and American history…what a previous generation rather cavalierly used to call “dead white guys studies”. Probably not what they mean, though.)

Their press release says they expect a counter-demonstration from liberal student groups, although liberal groups have yet to announce any such activity with a press release of their own.

Judges uphold Russell’s convictions

Appellate judges on Tuesday upheld the vehicular homicide convictions against Frederick Russell, who was convicted in 2007 of killing three Washington State University students and seriously injuring three others in a drunken crash a decade ago on the highway that connects Moscow and Pullman.

 However, the Division III Court of Appeals will return the case to Superior Court Judge David Frazier so that Russell can be given credit for the time he served incarcerated in Ireland as attorneys fought for his extradition back to the U.S. to stand trial.

Russell had fled the country through Canada to avoid prosecution of the case.

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Sex offender, WSU library patron jailed

A sex offender suspected of using college library computers to look at pornography is in jail for failing to register in Spokane County.

James Robert Sorrell, 66, alias Douglas Doolittle, was convicted in Ada County, Idaho, in 1987 of lewd conduct of a minor and infamous crime against nature. He was released in 1997, then convicted of failing to register as a sex offender in Oregon in 2008.

The U.S. Marshals Service began looking for him earlier this year after learning he may be in Washington. He was arrested Friday after security at Washington State University's Riverpoint campus told federal investigators that Sorrell was looking at pornography on the library's computers, including a visit on Thursday.

Sorrell was arrested near the House of Charity, where investigators believe he sometimes stayed. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison for failing to register as a sex offender.

U.S. Marshal William Downey said he regularly saw Sorrell near Main Street and Lincoln Street in downtown Spokane.

“He actually would walk right by the courthouse here on his way to the library,” Downey said.

Sorrell is pictured above last April on the Gonzaga University campus. He told the photographer he was taking a research break.

Wild rainbow trout racing hatchery trout in WSU lab

FISHING — The race is on between wild rainbow trout and hatchery-raised trout, as Washington State University researchers measure their speed to see who's fastest — and most likely to survive in streams and lakes.

Which fish do you think wins most of the races at the WSU lab?

Check out the video above, or read on for more details.

WSU vs. Texas-Pan American

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WSU beats Texas-Pan American 74-52 in the Spokane Arena Friday, Dec. 10, 2010.

Gonzaga vs. WSU

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Washington State University beat the Zags 81-59 Wednesday night in Pullman.

Absence of first-time buyer credit had huge impact on Washington home sales

Washington State University researchers have determined a housing trend that most of us could have predicted, that home sales in July through September this year skid to their year’s lowest point, reflecting the point right after the federal tax credit for first-time buyers expired.

This came by way of WSU’s Center for Real Estate Research, which looked at home sales in the third quarter for Washington’s 37 counties. It found:

Statewide sales declined 26.5 percent from the second quarter of the year to 70,550 units. It said that’s 20.2 percent below the rate from one year ago.

Glenn Crellin, WCRER director, noted only two counties saw increased sales rates compared to the second quarter, Jefferson and Adams. Only seven had increased sales from a year ago.

The areas showing increases were primarily in rural communities.

Among the urban counties, six of the 16 counties identified as metropolitan had declines of at least 35 percent compared to the second quarter, while only four urban counties reported declines of less than 20 percent. 

Spokane did not fare well, either. It had 4750 home sales, a 34.2 percent drop from the previous quarter and 30.6 percent below the same period of 2009. Its median resale price for a home was $181,000, done 5.6 percent from 2009.

The full third quarter data set is here

Senate commitee approves defense bill, with Spokane earmarks intact

The 2011 Defense Department appropriations bill, which we mentioned in an earlier post here, has moved through the Senate Appropriations Committee.

The vote was 18-12. The bill includes three items items inserted by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., which provides money for three Spokane tech agencies or firms.

Those items are covered in the earlier post. The next step is consideration of the bill by the full Senate. It’s not clear when that will occur.

 

Murray pushing defense dollars for Spokane area tech projects

Patty Murray, D-Wash., has added language to the 2011 defense appropriation bill that would benefit area businesses and organizations. Here are the key Eastern Washington items added to the bill, which is now being considered by the Senate Appropriations Committee.

  1. Washington State University’s Applied Science Laboratory: $1 million to be used to establish a fuel and energy lab at the ASL in Spokane. One goal is to work with Spokane’s ReliOn in developing alternative energy sources for the Navy.
  2. WSU’s Positron Capture and Storage Project: $3 million for reseach into positron storage,  a high-density, concentrated non-nuclear energy source.
  3. Spokane tech company Next IT: $1.5 million to design and develop virtual agent software to help servicemembers, vets and families obtain information about care and treatment.

 

 

AM: Re-Imagining Airstream Classic

WSU design student Shona Bose buffs the shine back onto the shell of a 1958 Airstream.Design students are involved in an eight-week course to redesign the classic travel trailer, aiming to create a new interior for a modern user. Shawn Vestal SR story here. (SR photo: Colin Mulvany)

Question: Have you ever camped in an Airstream?

WSU, aviation groups and growers pushing biofuel alternative

One of the main news announcements this morning came by way of Boeing, Alaska Airlines and Washington State University. This is the formal announcement of an initiative to promote more biofuel use by the aviation industry.

WSU has been active in promoting this topic. The news takeaway in today’s announcement is this: an alliance of airports, airlines, industry growers and researchers will push forward with a serious study to examine how Northwest crops can be affordably used to produce jet fuel.

Bill Ayer, CEO of Alaska Airlines, was quoted saying: “Through this initiative, we are joining other key stakeholders in our region to explore the development of alternatives to jet fuel that could further reduce our carbon footprint.”

Boeing is a big partner in this project as well. WSU gets lots of credit for having spearheaded efforts over the last two years to bring together a solid group of industry and aviation specialists to sign onto the deal.  One good way to get an overview is to watch a portion of this video with WSU VP of Economic Development John Gardner. Gardner has pushed the the Northwest “farm to fuel” concept for more than a year.

The video was produced by TVW.org. NOTE: Start the video at the 60 minute mark to watch and hear Gardner speaking on a sustainable fuels panel in Seattle in 2009.