Washington State University’s new president has our attention.
While WSU was narrowing down the list of candidates for its top job, we encouraged those on the selection team to make branch campuses a priority.
While our community has strongly supported WSU Tri-Cities, it has sometimes seemed Pullman gave it little attention or accolades.
It was refreshing to see Kirk make his first appearances on a tour of all of WSU’s campuses. The Board of Regents recently selected him to fill the position left void by Elson Floyd’s untimely death last year.
We also feel further validation by the fact that the vote was taken during a regents meeting at the WSU Tri-Cities campus and the reappointment of Regent Lura Powell as co-chair of the presidential transition team. Powell is a retired director of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and particularly suited to help Schulz understand the special potential the Richland campus holds.
Schulz says he sees each of the branch campuses holding unique roles in the university system’s future by playing to their strengths.
A few key comments in his speech in Richland recently were music to our ears: “I want to see all of our campuses thrive and grow,” and “I tend to be a fairly hands-off leader as a rule.”
Schulz inherits the helm of WSU at an exciting time. He said he was drawn to the job because of the state lawmakers’ commitment to freeze tuition, WSU’s high academic standards and the new medical school.
We also like the fact that Schulz has worked at other land-grand universities and understands their missions and the economic development that results from the research performed by them.
He may have been playing to the crowd, but Schulz emphasized his work as president to foster the branch campuses at Kansas State University, his most recent employer.
“We have different campuses for a reason,” he said. “We need to use that geographical diversity as an advantage.”
He also said he wants to visit the branch campuses so often that his presence becomes routine rather than news-making. Those visits would be most welcome in support and encouragement of local programs and leadership.
WSU Tri-Cities is surrounded by potential, and more could be done to promote science and engineering programs. We have enviable partnerships here with several companies, but so much more could be done with the wealth of resources available at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Hanford contractors.
Another asset in its infancy is the Wine Science Center, which opened last summer at the Richland campus. Its state-of-the-art lab is the most technologically advanced of its kind in the world. The facility is poised for greatness with the right support from Pullman.
We’re also encouraged by the fact that WSU representatives from Pullman and Richland are reviewing bids for on-campus housing in the Tri-Cities. The lack of such facilities has been a hurdle for years. The advent of it would help develop more of a campus feel and attract students to the school’s programs.
While Schulz’s contract is still being negotiated and will require a vote for final approval, we like what we see so far.