Friday, March 30, 2007


Budget Budget Budget

More on the proposed budget for the state of Washington. Still looks good for Eastern in terms of its wish list on capital projects. Here's an update from the Spokesman Review.

Friday, March 30, 2007

'Positive year for higher ed'

Shawn Vestal Staff writer
The Senate budget includes money for an "unprecedented" growth in college enrollments statewide, an expansion of several financial aid programs, and construction projects on Inland Northwest campuses.
The Senate also proposes spending $11.2 million to establish medical and dental programs at the Riverpoint campus in Spokane, $5.6 million for biofuels research at Washington State University, and $3.5 million toward an Applied Sciences Lab in Spokane to help develop spinoff companies and other business applications from university research.
"It's a very positive year for higher ed, both in terms of the system and expanding access, but also for students and families concerned about access and affordability," said Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane.
As the third and final budget plan to emerge this year – after the governor and the House made their proposals – the Senate budget has a similar strategy to the others: Place caps on tuition increases, increase funding to put more students into college, and focus on producing graduates that will help drive the state's economy.
"All the educational investments we're making are part of the foundation for future economic prosperity," said Karen Fraser, D-Olympia.
The biggest single construction project funded on Eastern Washington campuses is the new life sciences building under way in Pullman. That project would get $58 million.
Eastern Washington University would get $10.8 million for renovating Hargreaves Hall, as well as money to begin designing a remodeling of Patterson Hall.
Here are the key provisions of the budget in terms of higher education:
•A total of $110 million to add enrollments at the state's colleges and universities, including funds dedicated toward increasing math and science majors, and adding students in high-demand fields such as engineering.
•Increases of $70 million in financial aid programs directed toward the State Need Grant, including a provision that raises the eligibility level for that program from 66 percent of the state median family income to 75 percent.
•Nearly $11 million for programs to help prevent students from leaving school without their degrees. The "retention and completion" strategies are specifically targeted to low-income and first-generation students.
•A total of more than $42 million toward programs to recruit and retain faculty members, equalize pay for part-time instructors at community colleges, and provide raises for community college instructors.
•The budget allows annual tuition increases of 7 percent at research universities such as WSU, 5 percent at regional schools like EWU, and 2 percent at community colleges.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007


State budget could bode well for EWU

It's still early, but the state construction budget presented by the House of Representatives Monday looks good for Eastern. EWU's top priority is to get funding for key capital expenditures as part of a plan to renovate key buildings. See Spokesman Review article below for what's in store for EWU and the region.

Richard Roesler Staff writer March 20, 2007

OLYMPIA _ The state House of Representatives today unveiled a proposed two-year construction budget for the region, brimming with more than $200 million in projects for the Inland Northwest.
Several local projects, including $2 million for continued work on the downtown Fox Theater and $5 million to build a local aerospace museum, were conspicuously absent from the House proposal. But the list unveiled Monday is just one of three budget proposals that lawmakers will massage into a final plan by late April.
“The House wanted to prioritize some of the immediate needs,” particularly in social services, said Rep. Timm Ormsby, D-Spokane, one of the local lawmakers on the committee that prepares the list.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said the list shares many similarities with one she proposed back in December.
“I look forward to seeing the Senate’s proposal and to working with both sides toward a final list of capital projects,” Gregoire said in a statement.
By far the most expensive local item on the list is a new $58 million biotechnology and life sciences building at Washington State University’s campus in Pullman. Eastern Washington University would get nearly $11 million to renovate Hargreaves Hall. Both schools would get tens of millions of dollars more for a variety of smaller remodeling, renovation and preservation work.
Spokane Community College would get more than $6 million in work; Spokane Falls Community College would get more than $8 million.
A sampling of some of the other local projects on the list:
•$7.8 million toward a state veteran’s cemetery west of Spokane.
•$2 million for additional renovation work at Avista Stadium, part of a five-city package aimed at sprucing up the state’s minor-league baseball stadiums.
•$800,000 for a Children’s Universal Park at the City of Spokane Valley’s Mirabeau Point project.
•$470,000 for the Emmanuel Center, with classes and social services for families, youths and senior citizens in Spokane’s southeast neighborhoods.
•$530,000 to help develop the Spokane River whitewater park.
•$1.4 million for the state to buy land on Antoine Peak.
•$1 million for additional construction at the Chewelah Peak Environmental Learning Center.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007


EWU's economic study on the arts

Interesting article about an economic impact you don't think about every day in our community. Of note, this study was done by Eastern's own Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis - which has been a key source for many important studies around the region lately on subjects such as housing, jobs, etc.

The arts are a big player in regional economy
-Impact estimated at $287 million

By the numbers
Spokane County is home to:
•725 artists, including those in visual arts, music, theater, architecture and other specialties.
•1,001 arts business and arts organizations, both non-profit and commercial.
•Best attended, in order of popularity, are performances, visual arts exhibits, festivals and fairs.
•Of all county artists, most are women who've practiced their arts or crafts for more than 24 years; about 87 percent work just part-time on art endeavors.

Paula Davenport Staff writer March 13, 2007
Art and cultural activities are more than mere playthings to Spokane's annual economy, according to a new study by Eastern Washington University's Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis.
Such events as concerts, exhibits, festivals and fairs poured an estimated $287 million directly in the county's economy in 2005, the most recent year for which figures were available, the report shows. Visitor spending accounted for about 20 percent of total revenues.
Data come from polls last year of artists, arts organizations and other agencies.
Harry Sladich, president and CEO of the Spokane Regional Convention and Tourism Bureau, said arts play a star part in distinguishing the city.
At travel shows, Sladich said he and the CVB staff are often asked if Spokane has its own symphony, museums and other artistic draws.
"Arts define the sophistication of a city," Sladich said. "And they want to know if we're sophisticated."
The poll also shows involvement in the arts created 3,420 jobs, most part-time, and attracted more than 773,000 spectators and participants to Spokane County in 2005.
The Spokane Arts Commission requested the study, the most extensive of its kind since the commission began tracking the data in 1984, said Karen Mobley, director of Spokane County Arts Commission.
Results were to be presented at last night's Spokane City Council meeting.
EWU's Patrick Jones, institute executive director; Mark Wagner, institute policy analyst; and David Bunting, economics professor, conducted the study and co-authored the resulting 50-plus-page report.
Mobley expects its findings to become solid baseline information as well as background vital to non-profits seeking grants, recruiters trying to lure new businesses and tourism organizations, among others, she said.
A breakdown of art-generated, direct revenue stream estimates it encompasses more than $206 million in annual sales, primarily admission fees; more than $74 million in earned income and more than $6 million in local, state and federal taxes, the study shows.
"There's a misperception that artists don't really spend money and arts organizations don't really employ people," Mobley said. The report shows "…even though we're not Boeing, the arts are important to the state economy and have a lot of intrinsic benefits."
Art's total impact, when such expenditures as studio rent, art supplies, advertising and other indirect fees are added in, equals more than $276 million in sales, nearly $98 million in income and almost $10 million in taxes, producing 4,409 jobs, according to poll's most conservative estimates.
Mobley said she hopes subsequent studies can be done conducted every three years to help accurately track trends and activities.
Funding for the study came from the Inland Northwest Community Foundation with support from the Spokane Arts Fund.

Monday, March 12, 2007


Get Lit! Getting Better!

Quick note from the SR about the Get Lit! lineup for this spring.

Book Notes: New York author reading for free at Get Lit!

Dan Webster Staff writerMarch 11, 2007
It's only five weeks until Get Lit!, Eastern Washington University's annual literary event, and the calendar appears to be set.
Stress the word "appears." Spokane author Jess Walter called the other day with an update.
According to Walter, "Motherless Brooklyn" author Jonathan Lethem will appear at CenterStage on April 21 following the scheduled 7:30 p.m. "Evening of Poetry" event at the Bing Crosby Theater. Lethem's reading is set to begin at 10 p.m.
Thing is, says Walter, Lethem – who is on an author's tour to promote his latest novel, "You Don't Love Me Yet" – has agreed to appear for free. Most other Get Lit! events that feature name authors cost between $10 and $20 a ticket.
Lethem, 43, is a native New Yorker whose work has been a blend of science fiction ("Gun, with Occasional Music") and mystery ("Motherless Brooklyn," which boasts a protagonist with Tourette Syndrome). He was a 2005 MacArthur Fellowship winner.
Walter, the award-winning author of "Citizen Vince" and "The Zero," will appear with another writer bearing Spokane credentials, Gonzaga Prep grad Timothy Egan, on April 19 at the Bing.
Egan's book "The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl" won the 2006 National Book Award for nonfiction.
The Walter-Egan event runs $20 (plus fees) for the general public.
For further information about Get Lit!, including the schedule as currently drawn, go to

Friday, March 09, 2007


Eastern on the economy

Another article on how well the region's economy is doing, especially the steady housing market. Eastern expert offers his insight.

Spokane gets high marks for low costs
Survey cites housing affordability

Paula Davenport Staff writer March 9, 2007
Mid-level executives who live in Spokane enjoy a lower cost of living than they would in most other Western cities, according to a quarterly poll by the Council for Community and Economic Research.
The survey looked at regional differences during fourth-quarter in the costs of consumer goods and services, excluding taxes, for the top 20 percent of wage earners. It showed Spokane's cost of living to be less than the national average, too.
The study assigns a total score for each city based on respective costs of housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare and miscellaneous goods.
Spokane's composite score was 97.9, indicating it's more affordable than San Francisco (172.9), Los Angeles (147.0), Portland (121.1), Denver (103.4), Albuquerque (98.9) and the national average (100.0).
"One of the things that keeps us more affordable here is housing," said Grant Forsyth, an economist at Eastern Washington University. "If you consider what you can buy for $200,000 here, it's still relatively affordable. In some of these other markets, you'd be lucky to get into a 600-square-foot condo for that."
However, folks in the Inland Northwest paid significantly more in transportation costs last quarter, with a composite of 113.6. That's even higher than Los Angeles (112.6) and Colorado Springs (109.1).
"It's no secret that for months Spokane had some of the highest gasoline prices around," said economist Patrick Jones, executive director of EWU's Center for Public Policy and Economic Analysis.
At the same time, health care costs in Spokane (108.8) ran higher than Denver (107.5), Los Angeles (100.3) and the national average (100.0).
Head hunters, executives and employers primarily use the poll to compare cost of living differences in various metropolitan areas, said Randy Barcus, regional economist with Avista Corp.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Student Fights for second chance

Interesting story about former Eastern student who's hoping to finish his education, and turn bad experience into something positive.


Thursday, March 01, 2007


Eagles on ice!

Not many people know about it, but Eastern Washington University has a Hockey team. Actually, it's a club, and they're ranked number one in the nation in the division in which they compete. Nice writeup in the SpokesmanReview about the team as they head on to the national tournament. Here's the article - since many of you can't link to the Spokesman without a password.

Eagles gain prominence on ice
EWU hockey squad ranked tops in region
Paul Delaney CorrespondentMarch 1, 2007

Mention the subject of Eastern Washington University's hockey team, or wear one of their hooded sweatshirts around town, and you'll likely get a pretty standard response: "I didn't know Eastern had a hockey team."

Eastern's skaters are one of the best kept secrets in local sports. But after compiling a 19-1-3 record and being honored with a No. 1 regional ranking, it's quite obvious the teams the Eagles beat and those they'll face know about EWU hockey.

The Eagles will test that notoriety starting Wednesday in Fort Collins, Colo., playing in the American Collegiate Hockey Association Division II championship tournament. The ACHA ( is a nationwide organization that oversees several hundred club hockey programs across the United States.

Washington State, Gonzaga and Idaho are also members of the ACHA.

Unlike in two previous trips to Colorado this season – each a 19-hour bus ride – the team will fly this time, arriving Tuesday in Denver.

EWU's pool opponents – Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State – read like the Who's Who of college athletics. While the teams Eastern will play are not the NCAA Division I teams from these schools, they are still plenty tough.

"There's going to be some good competition, and we're going to be stretched," said first-year EWU coach Gary Braun. "But I think we're also going to be up to the challenge, too."

"The key to our success will be our conditioning and powerplay," predicted third-year EWU defenseman Bill Shaw. "Our powerplay has been very successful."

If Braun had his way, he personally might be able to inform the Cheney and Spokane communities about the team with the booming voice that punctuates the 6 a.m. practices that take place three days a week at Eagles Ice-A-Rena in north Spokane.

The 58-year-old Braun is a former head and assistant coach with the Spokane Chiefs. He was part of the 1991 Memorial Cup championship team with coach Bryan Maxwell and sees a lot of similarities between that club and the one he now guides.

He compares their makeup to one of the most memorable teams ever to lace up the skates in Spokane.

"We talked about the year we won the Memorial Cup," Braun said of a meeting he had recently with the EWU squad. "After Christmas the team took over (the leadership role).
"When we won the Memorial Cup that year with the Spokane Chiefs, Ray Whitney, Jon Klemm and the whole group took over. They took over the dressing room."

With all the championship teams he's been with, Braun said, "that's what you strive for – that the players become accountable to each other. I think we've got that in this team."

Braun said it's all about team at Eastern.
"Nobody is concerned about their statistics. In fact, I don't think anyone knows what their statistics are.
"We're concerned about what our team does. That's a great tribute to the guys."

Braun could also compliment his team for the sacrifices – most all of them financial – that are made playing hockey at Eastern.
There are no scholarships. Members of the team must pay $1,800 a year for expenses, plus pick up the tab for meals on the road.
Team fundraisers and merchandise sales help make up some of the difference.

Practices also test the players to the max. Braun is an "old school" coach with roots that trace back to playing for legendary names in junior hockey such as Scotty Munro and Ernie "Punch" McLean as a member of the Estevan (Saskatchawan) Bruins in the 1960s.

Freshman Alex Arnold hails from Anchorage, Alaska. While he hardly looks forward to the drill instructor-like workout Braun puts his players through, he appreciates how it is helping in the goal to win a title.
"In the third period, a team might be as good as us," Arnold said. "That's where it (conditioning) comes out."
"He (Braun) knows how to incorporate the old-style hockey and the new-style hockey," said Edmonton's Kris Kushniruk, another freshman. "He works us real hard in practice."
But the sacrifice will be worth it as far as Kushniruk is concerned. He looks forward to the day when the new EWU Rec Center ice rink opens in 2008 and the hockey team will have a home on campus.
"It will save me some sleep," said Kushniruk. "I wake up at 4:45 in the morning to come here (at Eagles Ice-A-Rena for practice)."

The team's accomplishments extend off the ice, too, as nine players – Bill Shaw, Paul Campbell, Brandon Price, Kris Smith, Mike Truex, Nick Kooikier, Jonathan Braun, Mike Jensen and Kenny Johnston – are on EWU's most recent dean's list with grade-point averages above 3.5.

Former EWU administrator – and later interim President – Brian Levin-Stankevich helped form the club in 1998. He coached the Eagles the first two years before turning over the reins to Dan Ryan, who helped elevate the program further.

Ryan took EWU to its first tournament appearance last year.
"Dan Ryan helped take the program to a higher level," Shaw said.
Maybe when their five-day stay in Colorado is finished, even more people will know about EWU's hockey team.
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