Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 6/26/09
Honoring Our Legacy
Thursday night in Seattle, I had the honor to be a part of the Crimson Legacy of Leadership event, which celebrated the contributions of Washington State University’s last three presidents – Glenn Terrell, Samuel Smith and V. Lane Rawlins.
Talking with those three outstanding leaders, and seeing the continued affection they inspire from so many Cougar alumni and supporters, one cannot help but be filled with immeasurable respect for these men and for their contributions to our university.
Each led the institution through difficult times, and left it a better place. Each remained focused on the goal ahead while systematically surmounting any hurdles placed in the institution’s path.
Having come through some difficult times of our own, we can learn from their example. We have much to celebrate, much to anticipate and much more to do.
In about two months, fall semester will begin on our four campuses. It will be an exciting time, full of possibility for our students and for our university.
Last fall, we welcomed a record number of students to our campuses. All indications are that university-wide enrollment will be strong again this fall. A WSU education is in high demand.
In Pullman, about 230 of those students will be moving into the new Olympia Avenue residence hall, the first such hall to be built on our campus in more than 30 years. We’re also moving into the new Biotechnology/Life Sciences Building, a high-tech facility that will be a tremendous boon to our university’s research efforts.
At WSU Spokane, this will be the first fall semester for the new Nursing Building that we dedicated in May. At WSU Vancouver, construction will begin later this year on the Applied Technology Classroom Building, the top priority among our capital requests.
Meanwhile, at WSU Tri-Cities, research at the Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory, which we dedicated a little more than a year ago, continues to position our university as a leader in the emerging areas of science surrounding biofuels and energy independence.
As important as these facilities are to the success and the future direction of our institution, they pale in importance when compared to another factor – the people who work, teach and study at WSU. In times of crisis, the true spirit and character of any organization shines through. The quality of the people who have dedicated their lives to making sure that our students and our university achieve their full potential is a constant inspiration to me.
Another aspect of the “people power” that drives WSU forward was on display at Thursday’s Crimson Legacy of Leadership event. The nearly 200 people who attended, and many more who made gifts in honor of the three former presidents, contributed money to support need-based student scholarships. Their gifts represent an impressive start to the Crimson Challenge campaign, through which we are planning to raise $2 million in private contributions to be matched by the university.
We are committed to maintaining access to Washington State University for the next generation of students, and the next. That is how we will be true to the legacy of Presidents Terrell, Smith and Rawlins, three leaders who left us with much to celebrate while recognizing we have much more still to achieve.