higher education

Kyle Stokes / KPLU

Five small colleges across the Pacific Northwest are attempting to find ways to work together on projects they might not be able to pull off on their own.

The schools' most recent stab at collaboration: a food systems course that sent a class of college students traveling hundreds of miles across the region, tracing the region's food chain from its beginning — the fields and orchards of eastern Washington — to its very, very end.

The students' environment changes day to day. After watching combines comb wheat from an industrial-sized farm field in the Palouse the week before, 10 students from three of the colleges took their summer study of agriculture and food systems to the waste treatment plant in Tacoma that turns the city's biosolid waste into soils for lawns and gardens last Tuesday.

Curtis Cronn / Flickr

The local chapter of the Service Employees International Union has filed a petition on behalf of adjunct faculty members at Seattle University.

The adjunct faculty members, which include part-time, temporary and other contingent instructors, want better teaching conditions, including higher pay.

Pacific Lutheran University

Disclosure: Pacific Lutheran University holds the license for KPLU, where on-air staff are affiliated with SAG-AFTRA.

Faculty members at Pacific Lutheran University begin voting Thursday on whether to unionize. It’s the result of a monthslong fight that has pitted PLU’s lecturers, adjunct professors and other non-tenure track instructors against the administration.

Disclosure: Pacific Lutheran University holds the license for KPLU. KPLU’s programming staffers are the university’s only unionized employees.

Pacific Lutheran University is trying to fend off attempts by members of its faculty to unionize, and the outcome could have national implications.

The push is coming from “contingent faculty,” the non-tenure track professors, lecturers and instructors who teach about a third of PLU’s course credits. Those people get paid significantly less than regular faculty, and their employment status is much shakier.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Should students earning in-demand degree pay more?

That's the idea behind behind differential tuition, which would allow colleges to raise the price of earning expensive, sought-after degrees like engineering and computer science.

Some local students are rallying against the idea and urging their schools not to boost tuition to match their majors' demand. 

But the schools say differential tuition could help offset deep cutbacks in state funding.

Gabriel Spitzer / KPLU

Maybe it’s something in the water: Washington schools top the lists of large, medium and small colleges producing the most Peace Corps volunteers. It’s the first time one state has dominated all three categories of the Peace Corps’ list.

dblackadder / Flickr

In just a few days, smoking marijuana won’t be much different from drinking a glass of wine, as far as state law is concerned. But in what may be the place most associated with pot-smoking – the dorm room – it will still be banned.

PULLMAN, Wash. – A 19-year-old man is at least the fourth Washington State University student to fall out of a campus building this school year.

Police say alcohol likely played a role in three of the falls.

The latest incident occurred early Sunday morning, when a student who had been drinking fell from a fraternity house balcony. Griffin Healey was in a Spokane hospital with head injuries.

About a thousand more international students are hanging out on the University of Washington's Seattle campus this fall. But university officials say that doesn't mean they have cut back on the number of in-state students at the state's most selective public university.

Courtesy of Seattle Central Community College

Seattle Central Community College may be well known for Occupy Seattle protests and antiwar activism. But school officials are trying to make the campus more friendly to returning members of the military.

Krug6 / Flickr

Washington students appear to be acing one test, the SAT test. 

Average scores were the highest in the nation among states where more than 50 percent of eligible students take the college-entrance exam.

Charla Bear / KPLU

“There was such a shift from what I thought life was going to be, to what it turned out to be. That’s where things really started for me.  It’s where I started growing up, I would say.”

In early September of 2001, Kevin Finch moved from his childhood home in Puyallup, Wash., to the dorms at Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) to start his freshman year in college. His plan was to finish in 4 years with a degree in something related to health care, an idea that began to unravel on just his second day of class.

Some high school students are expected to ditch the state’s popular Running Start program this fall.

The number of students who take advantage of the opportunity to earn college credit has grown every year since the program began in the early 90’s, but that progress could be coming to a halt.  

Courtesy of PLU

One of the longest serving college presidents in western Washington is stepping down.  The President of Pacific Lutheran University plans to retire effective a year from now, June 1, 2012.

Loren Anderson made the announcement Tuesday afternoon  to faculty and staff at the south Tacoma campus.  Anderson has led Pacific Lutheran University for the past 20 years.  (The university holds the broadcast license for KPLU-FM.)


The longtime president of the state's largest community college is taking a new job as the Washington chancellor of a private, nonprofit online school.

Making headlines around the Northwest this morning:

  • Going Back to College Could Get More Expensive
  • Higher Ed Bills Drawing Fresh Faces to Olympia
  • Arson Attempt at Olympia Police Station
  • Sounders Drop MLS Opener


Bill Would Hike Fees For College Returnees

If you plan to go back to college you could end up paying a lot more in tuition. A budget-saving proposal in Olympia would apply to people who already have a degree and then go for extra training at a community college, reports The Seattle Times' Queenie Wong:

SB5868 would require students with a bachelor's degree who attend a community or technical college to bear the entire cost of instruction - the price of regular tuition plus the share that the state pays.

That means it could affect current university students who take extra time and credits to get their degree.  State Senator Rodney Tom of Bellevue tells Wong that during a tight economy, government has to prioritize. It’s important to help students attend college, he says, but not for extra training.

Ted S. Warren / AP Photo

More than 3,100 Washington students might not get into the state’s largest universities in the next couple of years. Hundreds of faculty and staff could lose their jobs. That’s what university presidents say will happen if the legislature slashes higher education funding beyond what the governor has already proposed.

Elaine Thompson / AP Photo

Advocates for Washington's universities are presenting a more unified front in Olympia this year. They hope the closer coordination will help them make a stronger case for higher-ed funding. A coalition of groups gathered on the steps of the state capitol Thursday.


Making headlines around western Washington this morning:

  • Another 787 Delay
  • A Break in Flooding
  • Potential Hits to K-12 and Community College Construction
  • Huskies Drop in Polls

Charla Bear / KPLU

Seniors who graduate from Chief Sealth High School in West Seattle have a new price for their first year of college – free.  The president of South Seattle Community College says it’ll give one-year tuition scholarships to any student who gets a diploma and fills out a couple of forms. 

Courtesy of Holly Wolfe

As people remember the earthquake that devastated Haiti last year, some Washington residents will get an up close look at the hardships survivors still face.  Today, anyone who walks through the middle of the UW Tacoma campus can see a refugee camp like those many Haitians live in.  

Pacific Northwest Inlander.com

Washington banks among most stressed in US, push to reform higher education funding, and a recall on sprouts after a salmonella outbreak.

AP (John Froschauer)

Washington looks for better ways to fund higher education, the Seahawks claim the NFC West title and a playoff berth, and Mercer Island High's band prances through London's New Year's parade.

Gary Davis/KPLU

A major effort launches today to help low-income students in South King County and South Seattle.  It’s a new approach to a decades-old problem – how to help disadvantaged kids succeed in school and beyond. 

Flickr photo by Rutlo

Cornish College will welcome its first woman president since the arts school was established by Nellie Cornish in 1914.  Dr. Nancy Uscher will leave her position as provost of the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) and join the Seattle arts school in August next year.


WSU officials aren't laughing.  Students are. A campuswide A/V prank at the Pullman school last Friday is the talk of the tech sites today, including Wired.com.