Washington State House Democrats


Your input on higher education opportunities in Kitsap County

What new higher education opportunities would you like to see in Kitsap County?

As many of you know, I chair the House Higher Education Committee, which means I focus on expanding college opportunities to help people get decent jobs to support their families. This is a huge issue in Kitsap County, where we don’t have the same higher education opportunities as cities like Seattle or Bellingham or Spokane: once you get on that ferry heading west from Seattle, you don’t hit a four-year, full-time, degree-granting college or university until you’re in Tokyo. That’s not fair to people who live in our area, and I’ve been trying to change that.

Over the past few legislative sessions, I’ve secured funding so that Olympic College can create several new bachelor’s degree programs, in partnership with Washington State University and Western Washington University. These programs mean that people in our area who can’t leave home for whatever reason (a job, a sick family member, no reliable transportation, whatever) are able to get a degree that will lead to a good job while staying right here in Kitsap County. These include:

  • New engineering and cybersecurity bachelor’s degrees at Olympic College so we can train more engineers and cybersecurity professionals for the shipyards and other local employers. The Kitsap Sun profiled the cybersecurity degree here.
  • A new early childhood education bachelor’s degree at the Western on the Peninsulas campus, in collaboration with Olympic College, in response to high demand at Naval Base Kitsap for people trained in early childhood education. The Kitsap Sun wrote about this degree opportunity here.
  • A new feasibility study to explore whether Western Washington University can create a branch campus on the Kitsap or Olympic Peninsulas.

I’d like your feedback on what additional new degrees or higher education opportunities you’d like to see offered in Kitsap County. The three programs I just described all came from people in the community—a chance conversation at an open house at Olympic College led to the electrical engineering program; a meeting at Naval Base Kitsap led to the early childhood education program. I would like to see us do more, and that’s why I’m asking for your ideas. We want to focus on degrees that lead to jobs in Kitsap County, so people don’t have to take ferries or commute long distances to get to work.

I’m writing to you now so that we can share any ideas you send me with the colleges and universities as they put together their budget requests over the summer. If you have ideas, can you please email me directly at drew.hansen@leg.wa.gov?

Thanks for reading, and thanks for caring about this issue–

Representative Drew D. Hansen

Final note…

This will be my last e-newsletter for several months. During an election year, there are certain restrictions on my communications to prevent the use of state resources for election purposes. These restrictions include a freeze on e-newsletters, as well as to my legislative website, meaning no new content can be added beginning May 14, 2018 until after the general election in November. However, if you have questions or comments about legislative issues, you should always feel free to contact me directly.