OC, WWU announce expanded partnership

Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson welcomed Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard with a few goodies July 17, including
Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson welcomed Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard with a few goodies July 17, including 'The Spirit of Poulsbo,' a history book. Olympic College and Western announced an expanded partnership, which will include the Poulsbo campus offering a four-year business degree.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson / Herald

POULSBO — Beginning next year, Olympic College’s Poulsbo campus will offer more four-year degrees as Western Washington University increases its presence.

The university, through Olympic College, will increase offerings in environmental studies and will also offer a business degree. The university will provide two full-time faculty, a person in charge of admissions, and an administrative support person.

The announcement was made during a ceremony July 17 at the campus.

“This is not just a handshake, it’s a long-term relationship,” said Jim Funaro, Olympic College Poulsbo’s campus director, during the ceremony.

Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson showed her appreciation for the expanded partnership by presenting Western Washington University President Bruce Shepard a gift certificate for a few treats from Little Norway. Included on the list: coffee, lefse, two cold beverages, a Viking helmet, and two frozen lutefisk TV dinners.

Though details are still being hashed out, classes could start up during the 2013-14 school year. Funaro said there will not be a designated area for WWU classes; classrooms will be shared by the university and the college.

The process of earning a business degree in Poulsbo could be similar to how an engineering degree is earned at Olympic College’s main campus in Bremerton through Washington State University, Rep. Drew Hansen said in a previous interview. Structurally, Hansen believes the lower-course work will be taught by OC staff, while upper-course work is taught by university staff. Those students in the engineering program through WSU can take pre-engineering courses, apply to WSU and finish their degree through WSU without leaving the Puget Sound.

Olympic College President David Mitchell described the partnership with WSU as a “win-win” in 2012.

Bringing in more offerings for degrees goes along with the City of Poulsbo’s Comprehensive Plan and brings the college’s focus back to four-year degrees, said Poulsbo City Council member Ed Stern, who served on the Olympic College North Kitsap Advisory Board in the early 1990s.

Since the nursing program moved back to the main OC campus in Bremerton in 2010, the Poulsbo campus has mainly accommodated Running Start students and transfer students, Stern said.

Nursing students comprised about 20 percent of the Poulsbo campus’ enrollment in 2010, according to a previous Herald story. About 60 percent of students were in transfer programs. The nursing degree was the first four-year degree program on the west side of the Puget Sound, Stern said.

During the ceremony July 17, Mitchell described Western Washington University’s partnership as a “wise decision.” He commended Shepard for his due diligence.

Mitchell also thanked the Poulsbo community for taking the campus “under its wing” and supporting the effort.



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