Washington State University Tri-Cities and Columbia Basin College officials have been working on smaller, infrastructure-type projects. And both campuses boasted higher student enrollment numbers in fall 2023.
Here is a look at what’s happening on their Tri-Cities campuses:
For the first time since fall 2017, enrollment on the Washington State University Tri-Cities campus has grown.
Enrollment figures for fall 2023 are 1,441 students, an increase of 0.8% over last year, said Leslie Streeter, WSU Tri-Cities director of marketing and communications.
That’s also a 25.7% increase in new first-year students, and 6.6% increase over new transfer students.
There was also an increase in new master’s and doctoral students, at 7.1%.
Out of the six Washington State University campuses, WSU Tri-Cities has the highest increase in first-year and transfer student enrollment.
A campus director of admissions was hired in 2022 to focus on enrollment and the team’s efforts to directly connect with local high school and transfer students have proven to be successful.
“Through increased use of technology, we were better able to keep in contact with interested students and help them through the admission process. We also held more on-campus events this past year that gave students and their families an opportunity to visit our campus and receive one-on-one help applying for both admission and financial aid in partnership with the financial aid office. Helping students receive a WSU education right here in our community is our No. 1 goal,” said Jamie Owens, campus director of admissions, in a statement.
As a whole, the number of first-year students in the entire WSU system numbered 4,249, an increase of 6.5% from last fall and the largest since 2019.
The operating budget for WSU Tri-Cities is $23 million for the 2023-24 school year.
No major projects are ongoing on the north Richland campus. But there were a few smaller projects from last year, including some that are still ongoing:
- Repairing the stairs outside the main entrance of the Floyd Building.
- Installation of the Cougar Pride statue.
- Completion of the Career Center buildout.
- Chiller replacement in the Consolidated Information Center (CIC) building. This project was expected to be completed by the end of September 2023.
- Installation of a new bathroom on the second floor of the CIC building, which is expected to be completed by the end of October 2023.
Columbia Basin College
Columbia Basin College officials saw a 12.7% increase in student enrollment numbers when classes began Sept. 18. The college welcomed 5,362 full-time equivalent students (FTEs).
On the first day of school last year, the college recorded 4,758 FTEs, a measure to calculate how many students would be attending, if all were enrolled full time.
“We are excited to see our Day 1 numbers for fall 2023 nearing fall 2019 (pre-Covid) which had 5,474 FTE on Day 1,” said Elizabeth Burtner, CBC’s assistant vice president for communications and external relations.
CBC’s big project in 2022 was the completion of the CBC Student Recreation Center building, which offers plenty of athletic facilities and exercise areas.
But Burtner said the Hawks have had plenty of other projects completed in this most recent biennium, or two-year period.
The college reopened its CPCCo Planetarium earlier this year after a two-month break for upgrades, including new projection and lighting systems in the theater and a revamped lobby that now has learning elements.
On the Pasco campus, the college:
- Replaced aging sections of domestic water lines.
- Completed road replacement.
- Replaced or repaired mechanical equipment.
- Repaired roofs on the T and H buildings.
- Renovated the library.
- Designed a new Equity Center. This is not its final name.
On the Richland campus, the roof on the Health Science Center building was replaced.
For the next biennium there are plenty of capital projects in line, first and foremost involving the T Building.
That’s where the school is in the midst of renovating space for the new Equity Center. In June 2023, CBC’s Board of Trustees approved spending $650,000 to meet overruns of the $1.5 million project.
The Equity Center will provide space for increased cultural understanding and support services for diverse student populations.
The school received $605,000 in Title V grant funds, as well as $245,000 in local funds.
The school reached out to the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges to secure the remaining $650,000 to finish the project.
School officials also want to design and complete a renovation of the science wing of the T Building.
In addition, there are plans to replace an aging section of sewer and domestic water lines; replace and repair more mechanical equipment; and repair or replace parking lots on the Pasco campus.
School officials also have their eyes on two future projects.
The first project to receive funding is to design and construct a new Center for the Arts and Innovation building.
That project is “estimated for July 2025-June 2029, but dependent on legislative funding,” Burtner said.
The second future project must secure funding to design and build a new Center for Applied Science and Agriculture. But that also is dependent on legislative capital funding levels.