It was this week 125 years ago that the State of Washington made its very first investment in Washington State University.
Thirty years earlier, President Abraham Lincoln initiated legislation to create our nation’s land-grant institutions. In 1890, in Washington’s first year as a state, our Legislature leveraged the resources allocated through what became known as the Morrill Act to establish a university focused on agriculture, engineering, and the applied arts, delivering a practical education to the working class and supporting the state’s economy. They made that commitment fully expecting a lasting return on investment. I am proud to say we have delivered on that expectation many times over.
Over its 125-year history, Washington State University has had a tremendous impact within Washington, as well as around the nation and the world. Innovation is integral to the story of the State of Washington, and WSU’s contributions throughout our history center on innovation in a wide range of areas including development of alternative energy sources, healthy foods, and clean water. The innovative research of our faculty and the energy and skill of our graduates have positively transformed the economic landscape of our state and the world.
The yearlong celebration of our 125th birthday, which begins this week with a variety of activities, is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at our institution’s true economic impact.
Today, through WSU’s Office of Economic Development and led by Dr. Anson Fatland, we are releasing a new economic impact report. Using very conservative measures, it calculates the return that the state receives from its investment in WSU. The news is impressive. In the past year, for every $1 the state invested, WSU delivered nearly $19 of economic impact. Overall, we generated $3.4 billion in economic impact in 2014.
This report also underscores the considerable reach of WSU research and education. As the state’s land-grant research institution, WSU has a working presence in each of Washington’s 39 counties. In addition to the Pullman campus, we have campuses at Tri-Cities and Vancouver as well as the WSU Health Sciences campus in Spokane. WSU is building a new and growing presence in Everett. Long a leader in online education, WSU’s Global Campus offers degree programs that can be accessed from any location around the globe. Each of these locations represents an opportunity for us to extend our impact to benefit the people of Washington and beyond.
And, just this morning, we learned that the bill clearing the way for WSU to establish an independently accredited medical school at its Spokane campus received final passage by the Washington Legislature and is on its way to the Governor’s office. Legislative approval cues the next step for WSU in fulfilling our public policy objectives for the State of Washington.
Throughout our history, we have aligned our resources to help meet the needs and challenges of our state, our nation, and the world. That is our responsibility as Washington’s only research land-grant institution. I am pleased that, by any measure, we are succeeding in our work on the state’s behalf.
Happy Birthday, Washington State University! There is, indeed, much to celebrate.