Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
WSU/Vancouver Engineering & Science Institute Dedication
March 22, 2004
Good morning. It’s great to be here to help dedicate the WSU-Vancouver Engineering & Science Institute.
Days like today are one of the reasons that it has been an honor serving as your governor the past seven years. Mona and I deeply appreciate the encouragement and support we’ve received from people here in southwest Washington, and all across our state. And I am very proud of all that we’ve been able to accomplish for Washington, including some great progress in the Legislative session we just concluded.
And I am most proud of our accomplishments in education. Education has been my top priority, and we’ve come a long way. So days like today and events like this one are especially important and gratifying to me.
As we dedicate this institute, we also dedicate ourselves to an innovative concept. The concept of a more open and accessible education system. Offering unique opportunities in high demand fields. Working with local employers to meet critical skill needs to build stronger regional economies.
In opening these doors this morning, we open doors of opportunity. For students who want to study computer science, biology and mechanical engineering at the university level. For local businesses and industries to draw from a first-rate local pool of highly educated and trained employees in critical areas—and to have access to quality research opportunities. And for this region, which will reap the benefits of developing the innovation potential of this region—and the jobs that go with it.
The program options available here are impressive and inspiring. Students can earn two-year or four-year degrees. A bachelor’s degree in biology and computer science. A bachelor or master’s degree in mechanical engineering. All without having to leave southwest Washington. All at this institute!
Starting next fall, students here will benefit from university faculty in these key areas of study. They will be able to conduct university-level research. They will have access to internships and to industry partners.
The Vancouver-Portland area is one of the world semiconductor centers. Until now, this extremely promising industry has lacked a public research presence in the region. Now that presence is right here.
And now, those companies will be better able to recruit highly educated and trained employees from right around here, locally. Those good jobs in high-demand fields will now be going to the sons and daughters of southwest Washington.
This has been an innovative and very effective public/private partnership. WSU-Vancouver, Clark College, Lower Columbia College and the High Tech Council have worked extremely hard together to make this happen. And the state has provided $675,000 for start-up costs and equipment. We’re also providing an additional $662,500 next year to pay for the costs that student tuition don’t cover.
There is also money available for one thousand more students to be enrolled in high-demand, high-cost fields to be given out among schools that apply. I expect this Institute will seek even more money to enroll more students.
Together, we’ve made this innovative concept an exciting reality. I know you are all proud of this success. And I hope we can duplicate this success in other regions of our state.
A strong community encompasses all the basics people need for a fulfilling life. In the best of all possible worlds, opportunities to a college education and good jobs are among these basics. With the opening of this great Engineering and Science Institute, this community better reflects the “best of all possible worlds.”
If we want to remain competitive, we must continue to open the doors to higher education opportunities. We must continue to build a highly skilled workforce.
Strong, innovative partnerships between educational institutions, government, business, communities and students have never been more important. Or more needed. And this Institute shows just what can be accomplished though such partnerships. Sometimes the whole really is much greater than the sum of the parts.
Congratulations to you all for uniting to open these doors of opportunity today.