Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. - 8/29/07
Ask someone where Washington State University is located, and you will likely hear, “Pullman.”
That answer, of course, is both right and wrong. Pullman is the home of our oldest and largest campus and is the center of our university’s administration. And that is not going to change. But Washington State University has become, by any measure, a statewide enterprise. We are very much the state’s university.
The statewide impact and mission of WSU will be on display next week during the annual Seattle Week. This will be my first Seattle Week, but I have heard much about its history, as it has grown from a football game with some additional WSU-related events, to a true celebration of both the scope of the university’s programs and the loyalty of its supporters.
Seattle Week is a week-long acknowledgement of an everyday reality, that WSU’s impact is truly statewide.
The expansion of WSU’s campuses across the state is one sign of that. This year, WSU Tri-Cities welcomes its first freshman class; last fall, WSU Vancouver did the same. And WSU Spokane is growing into ever more of an education and research center for Washington’s second-largest city, especially in the area of health sciences.
Meanwhile, WSU Extension continues its work in every county in the state. Recently, Jefferson County in the Olympic Peninsula awarded a two-year contract to WSU’s extension office to develop and carry out an economic development strategy for the county. This is a tangible and welcome sign of our university’s renewed emphasis on statewide economic development. Jefferson County is located just about as far away from Pullman as you can get and still be in the state of Washington, but that distance clearly has no impact on this important work.
When you list all the campuses, extension offices, and research and education centers that make up Washington State University, the only accurate answer to the question of where WSU is located becomes “Washington State.”
WSU must take that same statewide perspective when it makes decisions on where to locate programs and people. Where can our research have the most impact? Where are specific degree programs needed? Where can our employees be most effective in garnering fund-raising support or turning university research into new businesses? Which communities offer the businesses, the hospitals and the schools that can mutually benefit our students as they gain day-to-day practical experience?
Washington is a diverse and vibrant state. The opportunities it presents to our university are limitless. By developing our statewide perspective, Washington State University can do even more to improve the lives of all Washingtonians.