The library and CUB are full and the streets are beginning to empty on the Pullman campus, sure signs that finals week is underway. As the semester and the year draw to a close, I would like to thank each and every member of our Washington State University family for their hard work and support over the past year.
Overall, 2014 was a year of initiative and growth for our great institution. We made significant progress on several important fronts and launched one of the largest initiatives in our university’s history.
The Campaign for Washington State University continues to be an incredible success. We are closing in on our $1 billion goal and will have much to celebrate when the campaign closes on June 30, 2015. As encouraging as the dollar amount is, the source of that total is even more remarkable – to date, more than 192,000 donors have contributed to support scholarships, faculty research, and facilities.
Our student enrollment hit another record this fall, with nearly 28,700 students enrolled at our campuses in Pullman and around the state. And, once again, more than a third of our incoming freshmen self-identified as students of color. What our students accomplish in the classroom, in the community, and throughout the state is truly a point of pride for the entire institution.
It was a pleasure to welcome our new vice president for research, Chris Keane, to WSU this year. This fall, he initiated a 120-day, faculty-led process to examine all aspects of our research enterprise and what it will take to bring that enterprise to the next level. I look forward to seeing the fruits of that labor in the spring.
On the outreach front, 2014 was a year of celebrating the unique role WSU plays as the state’s only land-grant research university.
Our urban campuses at Tri-Cities, Spokane and Vancouver celebrated their 25th anniversaries this year. The growth they have seen and the increasing impact they are having in their communities is testimony to the value of expanding access to higher education throughout the state.
In addition, WSU Extension joined the national celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Smith-Lever Act that created USDA Cooperative Extension services throughout the United States. Our presence in each of Washington’s 39 counties continues to support a better quality of life for all state residents by fostering economic and community development where they live and work.
2014 was a year of new initiatives as well. Our presence at WSU North Puget Sound at Everett continued to grow as we assumed management responsibility for the Everett University Center higher education consortium there. Chancellor Bob Drewell and Campus Dean Paul Pitre have done a remarkable job advancing the work of both the Center and WSU in one of the most educationally underserved areas of our state.
Of course, the largest new initiative of the year was launching our efforts to establish a separately accredited public medical school at WSU Spokane. The need for more primary care physicians throughout the majority of Washington is critical and well documented. As the state’s land-grant research university, we align our resources to make a positive difference where it is most needed, and this initiative clearly falls within that mandate.
The issue is now in the hands of our state lawmakers. Our top priorities for the 2015 session are the statutory change and seed funding we need to pursue a separately accredited medical school. You will be hearing much about this in the weeks to come.
We will begin 2015 with a yearlong celebration of another important milestone – the 125th anniversary of the founding of Washington State University. It is an opportunity not only to celebrate our past, but more importantly, to look with excitement at what we will accomplish for the state – and the world — in the future. Much more to come about this in the new year.
In the meantime, Carmenta and I wish every member of the Cougar Nation – students, faculty, staff, alumni, friends, and supporters – the happiest of holiday seasons. And, again, thank you for your part in making 2014 such a successful year for Washington State University.