Washington State University Tri-Cities is the fastest-growing and most diverse campus in the WSU system. For three years running, we have welcomed a record number of students. This fall, we reached a milestone with a headcount of 1,505 students.
With increased enrollment comes the responsibility of expanding services for our students, from offering more daytime classes, providing tutoring and counseling services, and supporting clubs and activities. One of our goals is to become a destination campus for the greater Mid-Columbia region, which eventually will mean providing on-campus housing to allow students from outside the Tri-Cities to have easier access to higher education.
As we reach out to potential students across the Mid-Columbia, we are thrilled to see an increase in interest among minority and first-generation college students. With our campus at more than 18 percent multicultural, we intend to seek federal designation as a Hispanic Serving Institution. This designation, which takes several years to achieve, would enable our campus to receive federal funding for support programs for Latino students, which would provide support for our entire student population. This designation would also establish WSU Tri-Cities as the only four-year public institution in the state so designated.
The increased demand has created a "crisis of success," however, as this growth comes at the same time as the economic downturn. We are experiencing -- and anticipating -- fewer state resources just when we are building academic programs, expanding and maintaining facilities that are receiving more wear and tear than ever before. In anticipation of more budget cuts for universities and colleges statewide, we have revisited our mission to determine how to create efficiencies, build on success and strengthen partnerships.
Even in the face of large budget cuts, our campus regularly celebrates small victories. We reorganized to create the Undergraduate Advising and Learning Center, offering better service to our students. We are inviting alumni of this campus to connect with us. And our early outreach department is setting the standard for encouraging future students.
Each accomplishment takes us one step closer to being the campus our community envisions.
Our success will be realized by innovative partnerships that leverage our region's assets. We have the distinction of being one of the few university campuses in the nation immediately adjacent to a national laboratory as well as some of the world's largest engineering firms and globally competitive private businesses. Accordingly, we are specializing in personalized education that meets the growing demand for industry-ready graduates.
Our vision is to be known internationally for signature programs that are supported by research in engineering, the sciences and technology, and which attract research partnerships, world-class faculty and international graduate students. Such research is being conducted by the WSU Center for Bioproducts and Bioenergy based on our campus in the Bioproducts, Sciences and Engineering Laboratory. The team, led by Birgitte Ahring, is part of the National Advanced Biofuels Consortium co-led by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and received $620,000 in research funding from the Department of Energy.
Thomas Henick-Kling, a global leader in wine research and education and director of WSU's viticulture and enology program, is based at WSU Tri-Cities. He is strengthening the V&E program by developing statewide industry ties, leading wine seminars and laying the groundwork for the construction of a Wine Science Center.
As a result of severe budget cuts and projected additional cuts this year, community support has become increasingly important. Bill Lampson and Fran Forgette have recently agreed to spearhead the WSU Tri-Cities arm of a WSU systemwide fundraising campaign. We are thankful for the generosity of business and individuals who have provided scholarships and endowments to support and to grow academic programs and hands-on student experiences.
As the only public four-year institution in southcentral Washington, WSU Tri-Cities is uniquely positioned to support the region's economic development and higher education needs. We take our commitment to the community seriously. Our dedicated faculty and staff strive to provide opportunities to the community's residents, organizations and businesses so everyone has the opportunity to experience this campus as integral to their quality of life, economic vitality and regional identity.