When we announced that Washington State University would be celebrating its 125th anniversary in 2015, we knew it would be a special year. No one, however, understood just how important it would be for our institution. In fact, our 125th year is turning out to be one of the best in our rich history. Consider the following.

Last fall, we reached an all-time enrollment high of 28,686 students and, for the fourth year in a row, 35 percent of the incoming freshman class identified as students of color. Enrollment was up at each of our four campuses around the state, as well as the online Global Campus. That speaks volumes about the impact of fulfilling our land-grant mission of access and affordability.

In the past year, we have celebrated the naming of the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and the Carson College of Business. Both colleges reflect the quality, passion, and impact of their namesakes – alumnus and oil industry executive Gene Voiland and his wife Linda, and alumnus Scott Carson, retired Boeing executive, and his wife Linda, who is also a Coug. It was an honor and a privilege to recognize both families’ amazing contributions to WSU in this way.

For those of us on the Pullman campus, we have watched the PACCAR Environmental Technology Building move closer and closer to completion. We will be celebrating its grand opening in the fall. Within the next months, we will break ground on the new Multicultural Center as well as a new home for the WSU Police Department.

Another major accomplishment of 2015 is finally quantifying WSU’s economic impact on the state. According to a recent study, we were responsible for approximately $3.4 billion in economic impact within Washington State during 2014. That is about a 19 to 1 return on every dollar the state invests in WSU.

Since last fall, the deans and many of our faculty have been working with the new vice president for research and the Office of Research on better defining our research enterprise and its impact on the major societal problems we face. We will roll out the results of that endeavor in the fall.

For me, personally, gaining legislative approval to develop an independently accredited School of Medicine at WSU Health Sciences Spokane has been a major highlight of the past year. Through the concerted effort of many members of the WSU team as well as alumni, friends, and stakeholders, we received nearly unanimous support for an initiative that will redound to the benefit of Washingtonians for generations to come.

Our fundraising campaign continues to exceed every expectation, and we look forward to celebrating the success of the $1 billion Campaign for Washington State University this fall. It will be a momentous occasion in the life of our university as we transform WSU based on private investment and philanthropy.

Each and every one of these accomplishments has been the result of focused dedication and teamwork. I deeply appreciate the extraordinary efforts of our senior leadership, faculty, and staff. They have tackled new initiatives and special projects all while still doing a stellar job at the daily business of a university – teaching, research, and outreach. I thank the members of the WSU Board of Regents for their unwavering support for every new endeavor. I thank our alumni for their passionate allegiance to WSU and their practical support on a wide range of issues. And, of course, the students are the inspiration for all that we do.

The true beauty of all that we have accomplished in the past academic year is that every initiative better positions us for an even brighter future. Here’s to the next 125 years – Go Cougs!