OLYMPIA, Wash. - To some, it is a glaring omission that Gov. Chris
Gregoire's new Higher Education Funding Task Force, formed this week,
includes no teachers. It will be chaired by an attorney at Microsoft,
and is made up of 16 business executives and school administrators, but
That concerns Bill Lyne, president of the United Faculty of
Washington State, although he says it does not surprise him. Many
teachers have been affected as university budgets have been cut by about
20 percent, and students have seen tuition hikes of at least 14 percent
in the past two years. No matter who's on the committee, Lyne says new
funding ideas will be welcome.
"All of those people who are on that task force know a lot about raising
money. They don't know anything about running universities. So, they
should focus on raising money, and leave the running of the universities
to the people who have been doing it really well for a long time."
Lyne is also concerned that the governor is asking the task force to
look at improving school performance and accountability. He says those
are not problems; that the university system is at the top of national
performance ratings, although it ranks 48th in terms of state funding.
"This state has for a long time been getting a world-class university
system at well-below market rates. So, the idea that you can comb our
budgets and find fat there that you can cut and make it cheaper, is just
The governor's office says public four-year universities must increase
the number of degrees they grant by 30 percent in order to meet the
growing demand for skilled workers. The Higher Education Funding Task
Force will meet through the summer and make its recommendations to the
governor this fall, as she prepares next year's legislative agenda.