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6 Extended Learning Centers Announced by WSU

PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University will develop six pilot Extended Learning Centers to demonstrate a new initiative to expand educational access throughout the state.

Announcement of the centers was made Tuesday in news conferences held in Colville, Longview, Port Hadlock, Pullman, Tacoma, Wenatchee and Yakima.

The six pilot learning centers are part of WSU’s supplemental budget request to the Washington State Legislature for Fiscal 1997.

WSU officials and community partners announced today (Tuesday, Jan. 2, 1996) that ELCs will be established as soon as possible in Colville, Longview/Kelso, Port Townsend, Tacoma, Wenatchee, and Yakima.

Les Purce, WSU vice president for extended university affairs, said the ELCs will address Washington’s higher education access crisis through partnerships with counties and community colleges.

Washington is among the top ten states in access to freshman and sophomore year studies, but ranks 49th in access to four-year degrees. Purce described the centers as “doorways to the Pullman campus and the educational network represented by the WSU branch campuses, Cooperative Extension offices, and the extended degree program.” People will be able to take WSU credit and non-credit courses at these ELCs, which will support degree programs, training and retraining for business and the labor force.

Purce said the centers will provide Internet access to university admissions and registration information, libraries, database information, technology transfer data, alumni and event information and a host of other resources and services. Students also will be able to check out video taped lectures.

James Zuiches, dean of the WSU College of Agriculture and Home Economics, said Cooperative Extension has historically brought federal, state and county governments together to provide informal education programs associated with agriculture, home economics and rural development.

ELCs will expand the Cooperative Extension approach to all WSU colleges and programs. “As local needs are identified for instructional programs, workshops and training, diagnostic services and technology transfer, these new learning centers can make higher education available to more citizens,” Zuiches said.

“By selecting these sites, WSU is acknowledging the commitment and initiative of communities,” Zuiches said. “These sites also meet the criteria of increasing access and geographic distribution of WSU’s programs.

“To be successful,” Zuiches said, “WSU is building a partnership with community colleges, using local faculty expertise, and linking the learning centers to the telecommunications infrastructure, from WHETS to the Internet and World Wide Web.”

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