Poulsbo’s emergence as the epicenter of education | In Our Opinion

For what is believed to be the first time in the university’s history, Western Washington University’s Board of Trustees are meeting somewhere other than Bellingham.

The meeting location? Poulsbo.

On April 20, the board met at WWU Center at Olympic College, where the topic of the day was “Western’s Extended Education: Today and Tomorrow.” Day two, the board met in Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort’s Deer Hall, where the board is scheduled to select a contractor for construction of the ethnic students center; approve tuition, fees, housing and dining rates; and discuss the SEA Discovery Center transfer agreement.

The fact that the board is meeting here points to Poulsbo’s emergence as an epicenter of education on the peninsulas, where four-year degree studies are becoming increasingly convenient for residents of Bainbridge Island, Jefferson County and points in between. Kitsap residents can progress through grades K-12 to to a two-year associate’s degree at Olympic College, and then on to a bachelor’s degree at WWU Center at Olympic College. (Northwest College of Art and Design is moving this summer from Poulsbo to Tacoma. But this area is also home to Northwest Indian College, which offers two- and four-year degrees).

WWU’s presence is important to this area for other reasons. Poulsbo is a growth center, in accordance with the state’s Growth Management Act, and we are diverse in our population, our industries, and in our challenges.

WWU’s acquisition of the SEA Discovery Center elevates the former marine science center to a research center where problems that threaten Liberty Bay can be identified and resolved.

WWU Center offers education in fields that are important to the region’s industries as well as our nation. One degree program, cybersecurity, provides training that is a first in the state.

WWU Center’s presence will influence the course of development in Poulsbo. We need more housing that is affordable to students and people of all wage levels, and we need more housing variety — apartments, condominiums and first homes. And as we grow, we need to protect the environment that sustains us, controlling stormwater runoff and protecting our natural places, our bay, and all streams that drain the Liberty Bay watershed. WWU Center, and Olympic College, will be great partners as we address those challenges.

Welcome, trustees of Western Washington University. We are excited about WWU’s presence in Poulsbo and what the future will bring.