Northwest NEWS

June 1, 1998

Front Page

Ground breaking for new campuses celebrated


Andrew Walgamott/staff photo

Governor Gary Locke (l.) was joined by officials from the University of Washington, Cascadia Community College and the City of Bothell in breaking ground for the newest state campus of higher education.


Andrew Walgamott/staff photo

A horse grazes the grounds of the former 127-acre Truly cattle ranch.

  by Andrew Walgamott
Staff reporter

   BOTHELL--A strange yellow orb shone down on Bothell last Thursday, its warm rays lifting the faces of humans and flowers alike. It was, of course, the sun. But it seemed to burn a bit brighter than usual. Maybe it was the length of its absence, the amount of rain that has fallen lately, or perhaps it was an homage to the beginning of a new era in academia and a bright future for the area.
   On a field of buttercups near the intersection of I-405 and State Route 522, city and state officials, college students and area residents gathered to break ground for the future University of Washington and Cascadia Community College campuses. Governor Gary Locke was joined by Bothell Mayor Debbie Treen, UW/Bothell (UW/B) and "Triple C" officials, as Cascadia is becoming known, for the festivities. "Our task today isn't just to break ground for a building," Locke said, "but to break ground for new ways of thinking about higher education."
   While the 127-acre former site of a cattle ranch where the colleges will be built appears little like a campus today, over the next two years it will be transformed into one unlike any other in the state. "We turn away from the separate and embrace the shared," proclaimed Marcus Gaspard, executive director of the state's Higher Education Coordinating Board (HEC) which oversees state universities. The fences and cattle guards will be torn out, old pieces of equipment removed and blackberry brambles chopped down to create the first co-located campus in the state's history.
   UW/B will occupy the southern half of the oval-shaped site with Cascadia on the north. "Right behind you," David Habura, outgoing Cascadia president told the crowd of about 300, "the doors of the library will open in two years." Both colleges will share the library. All three buildings will overlook a restored wetland and reconfigured North Creek. The creek was originally straightened by loggers to float timber to the Sammamish River.
   Classes for approximately 2,000 full-time students will open in the fall of 2000, giving UW/B the chance to move out of leased buildings in Canyon Park and allowing Cascadia to exist as more than three staffers with official stationery. When fully built sometime next century, the equivalent of 10,000 full-time students will attend. It will be a different sort of scholar who studies here with students older than the traditional 18 to 22-year-old. Many will come from community colleges.
   "Let me tell you a little about these students," said UW Bothell Dean Norm Rose. "Most of them work. Many of them have families. Many of them take advantage of financial aid. For them, Cascadia and University of Washington Bothell will be the gateway to a better future where they look to higher education as a mechanism for enhancing and enriching their lives."
   Dianne Campbell, Cascadia Board of Trustees chair, said she wanted to build a "learning system for students of all ages" that would be the leading institution in the state. "This is not going to be your ordinary community college," Campbell said. "This is a community college working in conjunction with the existing University of Washington branch campus and as collegial and complimentary as possible with the Lake Washington Vocational Institute. We will be pushing the technology envelope."
   Locke said the ceremony was the culmination of years of effort. A dozen years ago, the legislature asked the UW to study the need for regional branches for state universities, beginning a process that eventually led to the creation of five branch campuses. Washington State University built three, and the UW two: Tacoma and Canyon Park. In 1990, HEC recommended the UW/B settle permanently and in 1993 the legislature approved their plans to buy the Truly farm instead of the Wellington Hills Golf Course. Cascadia was created the next year.
   "But ... this is truly just the beginning," Locke said. "It's a beginning for something far more than bricks and mortar, for we are breaking ground for a new millennium." He said the educational needs of society have changed from the old days when teenagers left home for school. "We need institutions that help people of all ages learn what they need to know when they need to know it. We need institutions that make learning available for students wherever they live in Washington."
   Lisa Weatherwax, a senior liberal studies student at UW/B carried a star-spangled sign reading "Our beautiful future" at the ceremony. She said she represented the time and place-bound student who would most benefit from co-location. "That campus has made my dreams come true. I'd just like it to happen for others," said the 37-year-old Weatherwax who made her way to Bothell via Boise.
   City officials were bursting with pride at bringing the colleges to town. Mayor Treen proclaimed May 28 Groundbreaking Celebration Day and said the City Council had commissioned a piece of art to celebrate co-location. "We love UW/B and Cascadia and the partnership it stands for," City Manager Rick Kirkwood said. And while they may be happy the campuses are on the way, nobody is quite sure what impact the colleges and students will have on the city and region.
   Bothell Planning Commission Chair Jerry Pyle felt the primary impact would be social. "We have the opportunity to be campus town USA," he said. "It's a marriage headed for bliss, never divorce." To take economic advantage of the opportunity, he said Bothell would have to rethink its definition of who the students were and then find out what they want. To attract them from the campus to downtown, Pyle said "we'll have to create a friendly, open, desirable walk."
   One man who appeared happy and sad at the same time last Thursday was Dick Truly who sold the land to the UW for around $17 million. When asked about his feelings, he paused, perhaps reflecting over the years. His wife's family, descendants of Daniel Boone's brother, bought the land in 1916. Since the 1920s, they have raised cattle on 500 acres there. Truly took ownership in the 1970s. After construction of I-405 cut through the farm, ranching became unprofitable, and the last of the livestock was taken away last month.
   Finally, Truly commented. "I think it's the second best use of the property," he said, and added with a laugh, "and the first best is a cattle ranch." His house will be moved to a corner of the future campus. The home will eventually become a museum with "artifacts" (Truly's term) for saddles, guns and photo albums that record life on the ranch. He said he has also started a CD-ROM project to pass along the history.