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UW Tacoma starts $45 million fund drive

A University of Washington Tacoma capital campaign for $45 million is halfway toward its goal, with the money to go toward growing the school.
A University of Washington Tacoma capital campaign for $45 million is halfway toward its goal, with the money to go toward growing the school. Thinkstock photo

The University of Washington Tacoma, which has grown in 26 years to an enrollment of nearly 5,000 students, wants to keep growing.

A fund-raising campaign announced this week aims to bring in $45 million to the school, which sits on 46 acres downtown.

The money is to be spent on financial aid for students, hiring faculty, building facilities and expanding UWT’s community engagement, including partnerships with the region’s businesses.

UWT Chancellor Mark Pagano said Friday the school has developed only about a third of its property and has a new building in mind for its computer science and business programs.

The university has asked the state Legislature for $500,000 this year toward design work on that building.

“We are getting pretty darn full with the 5,000 students that we have,” Pagano said. “The physical plant is stretched right now. For a college environment, we have a very high occupancy of our classrooms.”

The new building is envisioned for Market Street between South 19th Street and the Court 17 apartments, and would require public and private financing, a UWT spokesman said.

Pagano said state money available to pay for educational requests will be limited this year by the Legislature’s attempt to meet the school funding requirements of the McCleary court decision.

The university’s fund drive has raised more than $23 million toward its goal, much of it from large donations by the drive’s organizers.

Herb and Paula Dana Simon, co-chairs of the campaign, made a substantial donation because they believe UWT is a driver of the South Sound’s growth, Herb Simon said.

“It attracts more businesses, businesses that want to draw from an educated community,” said Herb Simon, a Tacoma investor and developer who is a regent for the University of Washington system. “It’s hard for them to draw from students that have graduated from schools that are 35 or 40 miles away from here.”

The campaign is part of a UW system-wide drive to raise $5 billion, of which $3.4 billion had been raised by mid-December, according to its website.

Simon said UWT needed a campaign of its own to ensure that specific needs of the school’s intensely local focus are met. About 80 percent of UWT graduates remain in the South Sound region, he said.

“People give money to their local communities where their campuses are,” he said. “They give because they see what students can do to change a region.”

Derrick Nunnally: 253-597-8693, @dcnunnally

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