Welcome to the inaugural issue of “Perspectives”

Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D. – 7/11/07

This column is one method I will use to keep the WSU community and our various constituency groups up to date on university decisions and initiatives. Usually, it will carry my byline. Other times, I will invite others to share stories about WSU’s impact and aspirations. I hope you all will find it useful and informative.

Animal Health Initiative 

A few surprises come with the start of any new job. Fortunately, most of the surprises I have encountered since becoming WSU’s 10th president in late May have been pleasant ones. It is particularly exciting to discover the strong foundation my predecessors have built, and how well-positioned we are to make significant progress in many areas.

A prime example is our College of Veterinary Medicine. It continues to attract far more qualified applicants than it can admit. The veterinary teaching hospital and its research programs are unsurpassed.

Taking a mediocre program and making it better is not that difficult. Taking a great program and making it truly exceptional is far more of a challenge. This is the circumstance we face if we want to move Washington State University into the forefront of U.S. research universities.

Veterinary Medicine Dean Warwick Bayly and I have discussed an exciting initiative in his college, the creation of a School of Global Animal Health. It would be a degree-granting unit that would initially focus on graduate school opportunities. The school would also serve as a centerpiece of our research efforts in a variety of areas – particularly animal diseases and their potential impact on humans.

Our state already has one of the nation’s great centers of medical education and research at the University of Washington. The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is unparalleled. Imagine if the state of Washington had, as well, a research program of worldwide renown and global scope in the area of animal disease and its potential crossover effects on human health. The potential for collaboration between our institutions, which is already great, would grow exponentially.

During my recent visit to Washington, D.C., I found real enthusiasm among our legislative delegation about such a center and its potential to attract funding from government and foundation sources.

Clearly, the journey from a good idea to a detailed proposal to a realized vision is a long and sometimes bumpy one. And we are just beginning the process here. We must not allow the difficulty of any challenge to make us shy away from it. As President John F. Kennedy said, when speaking of an even more grand vision, “We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.”

Hard work and challenges lie ahead for Washington State University. By facing those challenges and completing the work, we are keeping faith with the people who went before us and positioned our university to accomplish great things.

I welcome your comments and your thoughts. Please email me at floyde@wsu.edu