We’re now two weeks into the 2023 legislative session, which is mostly in-person after two years of remote operations. Evergreen has a new government relations director, positive momentum around enrollment and a fair budget proposed by Governor Inslee that will help us serve students in new and traditional ways.
Former Evergreen Vice President Sandy Kaiser started January 3 as the college’s new government relations director and is working with leadership, staff, faculty, trustees and friends of Evergreen to advocate for the college in important committee meetings, work sessions and representational events.
In these first two weeks, we have deepened our relationships with Sen. Emily Randall (D-Bremerton) and Rep. Vandana Slatter (D-Bellevue) who respectively lead key committees on higher education. In regular meetings, we remind them of the strong social and economic impact of Evergreen in the region and throughout the state. We also emphasize the college’s areas of strength, while making the case for additional state investment on behalf of Evergreen students.
A January 11 Senate higher education work session on measuring campus climate featured Associate Vice President for Student Success Therese Saliba presenting Evergreen survey data on how students, staff and faculty assessed different aspects of well-being. Evergreen is a leader in this area. The legislature would like all public four-year institutions to conduct similar surveys and use the data to improve experiences.
At a January 19 Governor’s Mansion reception hosted by the presidents of all the state’s four-year public institutions, Evergreen President John Carmichael and Sandy connected with several new legislators including newly ranking higher-ed committee member Rep. Alex Ybarra (R-Moses Lake), Sen. Nikki Torres (R-Pasco) and Rep. Chipalo Street (D-Seattle). The legislators are eager to visit campus and learn more about Evergreen. Sandy’s in-person pro-Evergreen budget testimony in the state Senate Ways and Means committee was noted by Sen. Judy Warnick (R-Moses Lake), who encouraged Evergreen to keep speaking up.
On February 2, regents and trustees from the state’s colleges will converge on the state capital to lobby and advocate for their institutions. We are proud to have Evergreen trustees Kris Peters (chair of the Squaxin Island Tribe) and Shane Everbeck (Evergreen senior) representing us. On February 3, John Carmichael and Chief Enrollment Officer John Reed will be part of a Senate higher-ed work session that will look at national, statewide and local college enrollment trends.