The budget news out of Olympia may just put Shoreline Community College back on the track outlined this past fall by President Lee Lambert.
“If the Legislature approves a budget close to the one proposed by the House Democrats, we may be back to where we were when I spoke at the Opening Week meeting in September,” Lambert said Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. State Rep. Ross Hunter introduced the House budget bill, HB2127, on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012.
“In September, we knew the state budget cuts would continue, but we were putting in place strategic initiatives to help reduce our reliance on state funding,” Lambert said. “Our hope was that any state cut would be a size we could absorb, buying time for our strategic initiatives to take hold and bridge the gap without letting people go.
“It looks like our hopes might be realized. We just have to see what happens in Olympia.”
Lambert reminded that the two key strategies are internationalization and a virtual college. “We know that state support will continue to go down,” Lambert said. “Tuition increases cover only part of that and can’t be the ultimate solution. We need other ways to fill the gap.”
Lambert said the internationalization effort broadens the scope of college for both domestic and foreign students.
“Internationalization can help prepare our domestic students to live and compete in a globalized world. Washington is the most trade dependent state in the U.S. If we can prepare students to understand global issues and realities, they have a better chance to be successful,” Lambert said. “We are also working to bring more international students here. They also want to better understand the globalized world.”
Lambert said the tenets of the virtual-college initiative are similar to internationalization, expanding the global reach of the college, but also bringing benefits to every student.
“The virtual college is an acknowledgement that technology is changing education, adding ways that learning can occur and bringing the kind of online services we all have come to expect in our everyday lives,” Lambert said. “When we can give students more choices and meet their needs and expectations, everyone wins.”
Still, Lambert noted that any reprieve that might come from lawmakers in the coming days would likely be temporary and not a long term solution. “In looking at the longer term forecasts, it appears that we should prepare for less state support,” Lambert said. “Hopefully, we will get the time to prepare for that future.”