Our Voice: Inslee makes great move for Tri-Cities with choice of Lura Powell for WSU board

March 17, 2014 

Gov. Jay Inslee recently made a decision that didn't leave us scratching our heads for once.

Inslee recently appointed Lura Powell to the Washington State University's Board of Regents. Powell, a retired director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, takes the seat vacated by Fran Forgette, whose term ended last fall.

Forgette, a Kennewick attorney, has been a great advocate for the WSU Tri-Cities campus during his tenure on the board and Powell is a worthy successor.

With her connection to the Tri-Cities, her work for the campus here and her science background, she is a great fit to represent the Mid-Columbia.

Powell said she is looking forward to further developing the Richland campus, an entity she has been involved with since moving to the Tri-Cities 14 years ago.

Powell retired from PNNL in 2002, and has remained involved in civic and educational projects. Most recently, she was chairwoman of the board of the Washington State Life Sciences Discovery Fund.

She helped redraw the state's congressional district boundaries in 2011, and has been involved with the Tri-City Development Council and Delta High School. Her service also includes Soroptimist International and the Tri-Cities Evolution Task Force.

Through the years, Powell also has been heavily involved with WSU Tri-Cities and was part of the team tasked with the past two chancellor searches. She also helped with the plan to convert the campus to a full four-year endeavor.

"Lura Powell is a wonderful addition to the WSU Board of Regents, with proven support of WSU Tri-Cities and of our community," said Chancellor H. Keith Moo-Young. "More importantly, her scientific background, world view and leadership experience will enhance our efforts to increase access to STEM education, build strategic partnerships and grow a dynamic and innovative campus."

Powell is keen to help take research developed on WSU campuses to private sector businesses across the state, which also will help create jobs in the branch campus communities.

With the uncertain forecast for our state's higher education funding, Powell will surely have some challenging times ahead of her.

Forgette left some big shoes to fill in representing our community at WSU. We really can't think of a better choice for a successor than Powell. Though she is a relative newcomer to the Tri-Cities, she has embraced the community and thrown herself all in to help WSU Tri-Cities and many other worthy projects in the community.

Her experience and relationships with PNNL are a great asset, as is her interest in STEM education.

Our gratitude goes out to Forgette for his efforts and to Inslee for his choice for Powell's appointment. In that regard, the governor did the Tri-Cities and WSU a great service.

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