Inside Opinion

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Tag: University of Washington Tacoma


The stars align for a new law school in Tacoma

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Since 1999, the South Sound has had a hole the shape of a law school in its higher education system.

That’s when the University of Puget Sound shipped off its law school to Seattle University for a sum rumored to exceed thirty pieces of silver.

But the long dry spell of legal scholarship could end in 2015, thanks to the efforts of community leaders who are working to create a new law program tailored for the needs of this area. The idea is to raise $2.25 million in local startup money to plant a stem of the University of Washington Law School on the campus of the University of Washington Tacoma.

The local money would fund three years of staffing, after which the UW Law School would cover the paychecks itself.

The plan looks promising from a multitude of angles:

• Much of what the new school would need is in place now. The UWT has the classrooms and is already paying the overhead.

• The proposed faculty — UW law professors — are already at hand, just up the road in Seattle.

• As an extension of the University of Washington Law School, the Tacoma program would be accredited the day it opens.

• The potential demand has already been proved by the prior success of the late, lamented University of Puget Sound Law School.

•  The concept falls squarely within the mission of the UWT — which Chancellor Debra Friedman defines as an “urban-serving university.”

That last point deserves elaboration. Friedman sees the UWT as an academic engine that helps turn the gears of the South Sound, not as a refuge of disconnected scholars. Her vision reflects the many ways the UWT strengthens regional institutions — providing teachers and administrators to area school districts, MBAs and digital experts to area companies, registered nurses to area hospitals and so on.

A UWT law school would play precisely the same role.
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Prairie Line Trail links old Tacoma to new UWT

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Come fall, the Chihuly chandelier in the University of Washington Tacoma library will have some competition in attracting visitors to the campus.

That’s when a major leg of Tacoma’s Prairie Line Trail is scheduled to open, turning the old railroad track bed that bisects the UWT into a place for walking, biking and imparting a little information about the area’s history.

Toward that last function, Gerald Tsutakawa has been commissioned to create a bronze sculpture for the trail memorializing the Japanese community that once lived in the area and the Japanese Language School they attended. The trail will include spaces for future placement of historic markers.

That’s important because of the role the Prairie Rail Line played in Tacoma’s formative years: It became the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railway in 1873.

The UWT’s plan for its part of the trail – arrived at after much listening to the public’s wants and concerns – is simple, yet inviting, incorporating remnants of the old rail line, including the tracks and signals.

The Portland-based design firm Place is handling the $4 million project and has also been hired by the City of Tacoma to design its part of the trail.

Eventually the trail will link the Brewery District, UWT, the Museum District and the Thea Foss Waterway. The goal is to connect that trail with the planned 6.5-mile Water Ditch Trail from downtown to South Tacoma. This urban trail system promises to be an attraction for residents and visitors alike.
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Preserve park honoring one of Tacoma’s civic leaders

Raindrops collect on the fencing around Don Pugnetti Park March 12. The owner, the Washington State Department of Transportation, is looking for buyers. (Staff file photo)

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Green space is at a premium in downtown Tacoma, with few places where downtown workers and students can sit out on a nice day and maybe eat a sack lunch in the sunshine.

One of those few places – at South 21st Street and Pacific Avenue – is in danger of being lost forever. Don Pugnetti Park has been a little oasis of green for 25 years, dating to construction of Interstate 705. But now it’s fenced off with chain link and tagged with “No trespassing” signs. The barrier also blocks access to a century-old railroad monument.

Owned by the Washington State Department of Transportation, the pocket park was an Occupy Tacoma tent city for four months. The Occupiers are gone, but now WSDOT suddenly wants to shed the park for “liability” reasons and is seeking buyers. Maintaining the park isn’t an issue; a private company takes care of that as part of a deal to operate a nearby parking lot. Read more »


Big-picture planning good for Tacoma, good for business

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Ask business people what single thing would make them more inclined to expand, develop or invest – and in the process create more jobs. Many likely would respond: certainty.

For instance, if they could be certain that the property they’re interested in had already undergone traffic and environmental review, that would make it a more attractive prospect. The money they would otherwise have spent doing their own review could be plowed into the project, making it more economically feasible.

That’s the rationale behind the new way of handling development in Tacoma’s south downtown area encompassing the Dome and Brewery districts, the University of Washington Tacoma and part of the Foss Waterway. The city is keen to develop the area, especially given its proximity to rail, bus routes and the interstate.
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Meet our new columnist, the UWT’s Katie Baird

The readers of this opinion section do not cut me much slack.

Our goal is to run a nonpartisan and ideologically balanced open forum. We shoot for rough parity between lefties and righties in our national columnists and devote most of our oped space to debate on regional and state issues. Letters that challenge our editorial positions are given priority treatment.

If people think we’ve got our thumb on the scale, I hear about it. Until recently I’d been hearing a lot from liberals about our lack of a counterpoint to Richard S. Davis, who writes about state issues – especially fiscal policy – from a conservative perspective.

Patience, I’d plead, patience. I’m looking. We don’t want just anyone.

If you’ve been following these pages, you’ve probably noticed that our search is over. We have added Katie Baird to our lineup, and we couldn’t be happier about it. Read more »


The UW Tacoma, 20 years and 10,000 diplomas later

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

The University of Washington Tacoma is passing two momentous milestones this year.

A week ago, it awarded its 10,000th diploma at commencement ceremonies in the Tacoma Dome. And 2010 happens to be the school’s 20th birthday; it first opened in 1990, in rented downtown office space.

Its first graduating class consisted of four students; this year’s graduates numbered more than 1,200.
The creation and growth of the UWT may be the single most important development in the South Sound over the last quarter century.

The school was conceived in the 1980s as part of a grand strategy to expand college opportunity to corners of the state that suffered from the lack of it. In Washington’s pioneering days, such cities as Seattle, Cheney, Ellensburg and Bellingham looked like big comers; anticipating their growth into major metropolitan areas, the state’s founders gave them the public colleges.

They got Seattle right but failed to provide for Tacoma, Olympia, the Tri-Cities, Spokane, Vancouver and the dense populations between Bothell and Everett. Olympia ultimately got The Evergreen State College, but the rest went without affordable public four-year schools.

It hurt – badly. The Tacoma area suffered the greatest imbalance between population and opportunity; unsurprisingly, Pierce County’s high-schoolers wound up with a self-perpetuating culture of not moving on to college. In particular, family breadwinners, single mothers and the poor lacked the means to move away and enroll in traditional four-year schools.
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UWT must play supporting role downtown

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

Chancellor Pat Spakes is not a miracle worker, no matter how much University of Washington Tacoma boosters and downtown merchants might hope she was.

She couldn’t prevent the Legislature from shortchanging the UWT $20 million that would have built a faculty office building. Nor can she wish away the recession-era forces that are dogging retail prospects for other university-owned buildings.

A shortage of faculty offices coupled with the dim economic outlook for merchants has Spakes considering backtracking on the university’s commitment to fill Pacific Avenue storefronts with shops and restaurants.

Existing merchants are protesting the plan to put a classroom and possibly faculty offices on the ground floor of the university’s Russell T. Joy building, now under renovation. University officials say that trying to market the space to retailers is next to impossible in the current economic climate.

They are probably right. Down the street, the owners of Pacific Plaza say they have tried for three years to find a retail tenant; they too want to open up ground level space to office use.

But if Spakes can’t produce tenants out of thin air, neither she nor the university can let their decisions be guided only by self interest.

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Herb Simon: New chairman of UW Board of Regents

The University of Washington’s Board of Regents has a long history of being an exclusive club of wealthy Seattleites. Until recent years, it has focused almost single-mindedly on the care and feeding of the UW’s Seattle campus.Herb Simon Photo.jpg

That’s made a difference – as in the late 1990s, when the UW was socking away money for a new $80 million law school and other flagship buildings while showing considerably less interest in expanding the campus of the University of Washington Tacoma.

Four years ago, something strange happened: A civic-minded Tacoman, Herb Simon, was appointed to the Board of Regents. Simon, an investor and real estate developer, was not only a prominent Tacoma business leader but one of the foremost champions of the UWT.

He was one of the prime movers behind the campus’ creation and has labored mightily on its behalf ever since. His lobbying efforts were crucial in winning appropriations from the 2001 Legislature for the creation of the UW Institute of Technology in Tacoma. State funding was tight that year, but lawmakers were impressed by nearly $4 million that Simon and banker Bill Philip raised locally to add to the state’s investment in the institute.

Last week, Simon acquired an even more influential position: He became chairman of the Board of Regents.
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