Fund more math and science degrees

April 4, 2013. By Neal Piliavin

Independent colleges should also receive more funding

I applaud The Times’ editorial calling for increased production of college degrees in fields that are vital to our state’s economy [“Fund more seats in high-demand fields,” Opinion, March 27].

I also believe that Washington’s independent colleges must be viewed as part of the solution. Our 10 independent nonprofit colleges and universities already produce one in five of the state’s engineering and science degrees. Our colleges are eager to do more to help Washingtonians prepare for careers in high-demand fields.

State spending per degree at our independent nonprofit colleges is just one-sixth the state cost per degree at public four-year colleges. Our colleges offer creative solutions to increase supply.

One option, proposed by Seattle University, would involve the state contributing additional financial aid, matched by Seattle University’s own funds, to boost enrollment in programs like engineering.

Saint Martin’s University recently opened a new state-of-the-art engineering building (at zero cost to the state), and would like to expand engineering enrollments. These are just a couple of examples.

Let’s encourage our state Legislature to collaborate with Washington’s public and private universities to increase capacity in high-demand fields, and prepare able and motivated Washington students to fill those jobs which had employers looking outside the state.

Neal Piliavin, Seattle