Port speeds up funding for UWT Urban Waters program: $1 million pledge will be paid this year

The Port of Tacoma announced yesterday it will accelerate payment of its $1 million pledge to University of Washington-Tacoma (UWT) for the Port of Tacoma Endowed Chair.

The announcement came during a signing ceremony at a Port Commission meeting, formalizing the recent completion of the Endowed Chair funding.
Making the full Port investment in 2005 – rather than spreading it out over several years – allows University officials to more quickly attract top faculty to head the formation of Urban Waters, a proposed marine science research center.

According to Executive Director Timothy J. Farrell, the Port’s initial December 2004 pledge was designed as an incentive for others to step forward and invest in UWT’s emerging environmental studies program. “We put the challenge out to the community and they responded,” he said, noting that in April, Seattle-based terminal operator SSA Marine announced an investment of $500,000. And on June 14, the City of Tacoma followed with a $500,000 pledge that – with matching funds – completed the $3 million required for the Port of Tacoma Endowed Chair.

“Accelerating the Port’s investment ensures that we can move forward as expeditiously as possible on the important initial work of securing a professor to lead the Urban Waters environmental research effort,” said Port of Tacoma Commission President R. Ted Bottiger. “This action underscores the importance of the environmental work envisioned through the Urban Waters program and adds to the UWT’s reputation as a leading research institution.

“This research program will benefit our Port, the maritime industry and every person in our region,” Bottiger said. “Over the years, our Port and the City of Tacoma have spent tens of millions of dollars cleaning our waterways. By studying new approaches to environmental cleanups, such as bioremediation, we can help prevent potential costly future re-contamination. The money we save can be invested in job-generating infrastructure. With this investment, we’re really getting our money’s worth.”

The Port’s $1 million investment was enhanced with $500,000 in matching funds from the University of Washington’s (UW) $2 billion capital campaign, bringing its investment to $1.5 million. Likewise, SSA Marine’s and the City of Tacoma’s $500,000 investments were enhanced through the capital campaign.

“The Port has been the catalyst for making the Urban Waters center a reality. Their willingness to speed up their plan and fulfill their pledge today for the Port of Tacoma Chair allows us to move forward to recruit a top-flight scientist to join our environmental science faculty in the fall of 2006,” said Patricia Spakes, Chancellor of UW Tacoma. “This is a major step in establishing world-class research center on Commencement Bay that will attract more scientists and students and even spin off new companies, while helping to ensure our waterways stay clean and healthy as they coexist with industry, recreation and all the challenges an urban environment place on our natural environment. Knowledge gained from work done in this center will be exported across the globe.”

“The Port is proud to have been a catalyst in building momentum for investments from SSA Marine and the City of Tacoma,” said Port Commissioner Connie Bacon. “I am confident that the strong leadership of University of Washington-Tacoma Chancellor Spakes and the Advisory Committee for the Endowed Chair will make significant strides in the coming months to attract a high caliber professor and to begin to fulfill our shared vision for this important community investment.”