Higher ed loses a leader

Sen. Scott White passes away. Higher education political watchers are mourning the untimely passing of Sen. Scott White. I saw White last Wednesday at the Seattle Chamber fall conference and heard Friday night that he had been discovered dead in his hotel room.

Sen. White was an advocate for higher education. The Seattle lawmaker sponsored the bill to do away with the Higher Education Coordinating Board, among other accomplishments. He left behind his wife and two young children.

State economist brings crystal ball to Eburg.  On Tuesday don’t miss a presentation by the state’s chief economist, Arun Raha, who will be on campus as part of the CWU Economic Outlook Conference (EOC).  Since he assumed the office in late 2009, Raha has had the thankless job of forecasting how rapidly the state economy would nose-dive.

Dr. Raha was formerly Vice-President, Economic Research, at Swiss Re in New York, a leading global reinsurer, headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland. There he was responsible for forecasts of North American macroeconomic, financial, and property-casualty insurance markets. He also worked closely with Connecticut based Conning Asset Management which was part of the Swiss Re Group.

Dr. Raha had the dubious honor of handing the legislature and governor an anticipated $1.4 billion budget deficit. That forecast pushed the governor to call for a special session on Nov 28 to whack the budget. Budget leaders are paying the forecast forward, so to speak, by predicting another double-digit cut to higher ed and no capital budget at all in the next biennium.

Cheerful, right? It’s a good think Dr. Raha has a sense of humor. Earlier this year Dr. Raha couched a $183-million drop in revenue with a comment about the civil unrest in the Great White North following Vancouver’s Stanley Cup loss to Boston.

“Unlike the Greeks, who are rioting over economic conditions, our friends in Canada are rioting over something really important,” Raha said. “Who knew Canadian could riot, eh?”

The EOC, sponsored by our very own College of Business, also will feature the state’s lead for water-policy, Evan Sheffels, and Duane Wollmuth, executive director of the Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance.

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About Linda Schactler

Linda is the former Director of Communications for the Washington State Senate, and former deputy director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board. From 2000 through 2010 Linda was the proprietor of Schactler Communications, an Olympia-based public affairs business. She holds a master of arts in English literature from Washington University in St. Louis. Linda can be reached at her Ellensburg office schactler@cwu.edu, 509-963-1384, or on her cell phone, 509-607-4103.
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