February 2, 2009

WSU-EWU Meger?

Challenging economic times are a great opportunity for people to consider options that may not be as appealing when things are flush.

Take higher education for example: the state’s university system appears headed for big cuts so maybe mergers should be discussed. Sources tell me that WSU President Elston Floyd has contacted several Spokane area business people sounding them out about whether Wazzu should absorb Eastern Washington University. Not a new idea---big school takes over a smaller university that has several excellent programs, is located near a larger population center with more potential for growth and is definitely suffering from a leadership void. It’s also not the first time that WSU has set its sights on Eastern.

Is this a serious move? Unknown at this point because no one is really sure how the legislature will treat EWU. Nor is it clear whether the suggestion will be taken seriously in Olympia. But the folks at Eastern are aware of Dr. Floyd’s inquiries of Spokane’s key players are not taking any chances. They’ve done their homework and have their communications plan ready should the financial situation become worse and the idea of a WSU at Cheney move beyond releasing a few trial balloons.

I’d hate to see this happen for a variety of reasons---not the least of which is that Eastern’s my undergrad alma mater. But WSU can’t be blamed for at least thinking of ways to deliver its services better and more efficiently.

So what do you think? Is it time that higher education mergers be given serious consideration? Or should each school just try to take care of what it already has?