Increasing Washington Impact

New state funding boosts retention, workforce goals

New state funding boosts retention, workforce goals
The Washington State Legislature recently approved more than $3 million in new spending to support student retention and strengthen Western’s nursing and cyber-security programs.

The funds, included in Western’s 2022-23 state operating budget include:

A Focus on Student Access, Retention, and Success

$1.26 million for investments in student services such as additional financial aid counselors, multicultural student services staff, accessible technology support, enrollment personnel, and curriculum and student services staff for Western on the Peninsulas.

A New Graduate Degree in Nursing

$461,000 to enhance the state’s nursing workforce by establishing a new Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree program, with tracks in population health, nursing administration, and nursing education.

Lower Tuition for Undergraduate Nursing Degrees

$433,000 to align tuition for WWU’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing with other state-supported undergraduate degree programs at Western.

Funding for Cyber Range Poulsbo

$769,000 to upgrade hardware and software, and invest in additional technical and research support. The funds will also enhance collaboration with cyber education programs at other state universities.

Additional one-time funding in the ‘22-‘23 state operating budget includes money for  mental health first-aid training for staff and an accommodations counselor in the Disability Access Center—which are all requested for ongoing funding in the ‘23-‘25 budget.

We will measure our success by: 

Degrees Awarded
  2019-20 2020-21 Target 2024-25
Total 3,952 3,824 4,200-4,500
Graduate 242 298 350-375
States High Need Areas 1,351 1,294 1,450-1,500
Students of Color
2019-20 2020-21 Target 2024-25
26.9% 28.1% 30-35%
Enrollment in Locations Outside Western's Main Campus
2019-20 2020-21 Target 2024-25
6.0% 5.4% 8-10%


The dome of the Washington State Capitol building peaking out through trees

Helping small businesses survive natural disasters

Drone shot of downtown Everson inundated by flood waters

Floods on the Nooksack River devastated many businesses in northern Whatcom County in November 2021.

The state has a new $20 million grant fund to help small businesses recover from natural disasters thanks to Whatcom County’s Business Recovery Task Force, co-led by CJ Seitz, director of Western’s Small Business Development Center.

Seitz used data to make the case that small businesses, particularly in rural communities, face a critical gap in assistance as they recover from natural disasters, such as Whatcom County’s devastating flood in fall 2021.

Small businesses help define the character of small towns, Seitz says, yet they typically must rely on their own resources and insurance to recover from natural disasters.

CJ Seitz in a dark blue blouse posing in front of a rock wall

Seitz approached Washington State Rep. Alicia Rule, D-Blaine, with the idea for state-funded grants for small businesses to help them recover from disaster. Rule then took the proposal to the State Legislature and it was included in the 2022 State Supplemental Budget.
The grants will go to small businesses for repairs, utilities and rent, marketing and advertising, and other operations and business expenses to help them recover from floods and other natural disasters.

Grant funds inclusion in STEM

A set of Erlenmeyer flasks

A $3 million grant from the National Science Foundation will put equity and inclusion into action—and the classroom—for Western’s programs in science, technology, engineering and math.
The NSF grant will fund the Building Educational Theory Through Enacting Reforms in STEM (BETTER in STEM) study, which will take place over the next five years to embed inclusive, research-based instructional strategies into undergraduate STEM courses and departments.
“It’s really imperative at Western that we have STEM graduates that mirror our populations in our region and the U.S.,” says Dan Hanley, director of STEM Education Research and Evaluation for Western’s Science, Math and Technology Education Department, and a project leader on the grant.

Student Trustee Nate Jo receives international honors

Nate Jo in all white standing in front of a stone facade, wearing a number of sashes and ribbons

Nate Jo, a 2022 Presidential Scholar in the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, was a finalist for the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship.

The Rhodes, which covers two to three years of post-graduate study at the University of Oxford, is awarded to just 102 students a year, including 32 from the U.S. Only about 3 percent of applicants become finalists, and Jo is Western’s first finalist in several years.

A philosophy, politics and economics major from Richland, Jo served as the Student Trustee on the WWU Board of Trustees. He also interned for Speaker Laurie Jinkins in the Washington State Legislature and for the Whatcom Housing Alliance, researching solutions for housing affordability. After graduation, Jo was a legislative intern in the U.S. Congress and plans to attend the London School of Economics for graduate school.