Summer means advancing key issues

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Greetings from the East Coast! I write this letter between visits to WSU alumni and friends in the Washington, D.C., and New York City areas. When I travel out of state for these trips I am reminded again that we send our graduates across the nation and beyond—and that regardless of whether these alumni are hundreds or thousands of miles away—they are enthusiastically committed to ensuring the University’s success.

As relatively new Washingtonians, Noel and I are enjoying our opportunities to discover the abundance of outdoor attractions that make the Pacific Northwest a fabulous place to live. In May, we drove our Airstream trailer to the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth in Central Washington for a wonderful weekend highlighted by German food and music. Earlier this month, we completed a week-long camping and hiking trip to Glacier National Park in Montana. We managed to see a black bear, a moose, mountain goats, lots of white-tailed deer, ground squirrels, chipmunks, and many species of birds while appreciating the natural beauty of the area. Glacier is a hiker’s paradise, and we were delighted to hear “Go Cougs!” during many of our walks along the well-traveled hiking trails.

When I was a young faculty member in the early 1990s, many college campuses virtually shut down in June and July. Today, like other large public universities, WSU continues full-time operations with significant activities occurring on all of our campuses. Below is a sampling of some of our notable ongoing activities this summer.

Alive! orientation sessions

All summer long, we welcome new students and their families to the Pullman campus for Alive! orientation sessions. We introduce our visitors to the community and orient them to the University, and get the students registered for fall classes. If you see these students and families, please say hello and offer to help. We enjoy a great reputation as a friendly community, and we can enhance that reputation each time visitors set foot on campus.

Leadership searches

We have two University-level leadership searches currently underway: Vice President for Advancement and CEO of the WSU Foundation and Chancellor of WSU Tri-Cities. I appreciate the hard work that the respective search committees are doing during the summer to attract excellent candidates for these positions. I urge the entire WSU community to consider nominating outstanding individuals for these wonderful leadership opportunities.

Potential data breach

We have notified all of the individuals who may be affected by the potential data breach that occurred following the theft of a safe containing a hard drive from a storage facility in Olympia. My thanks to Vice Presidents Pillay and Weiler and their staffs, as well as the staff of the Social & Economic Sciences Research Center for all of the work invested in the analysis of the lost data, the notification process, and the subsequent handling of personal and media inquiries. It is critical that we create and implement revised institutional policies and procedures to minimize the possibility of future data breaches. We will continue to keep the WSU community apprised about this issue.

State and University budgets

We continue to refine the University budget as we wait for the legislature to finish its work on the state budget. You can follow the legislative budgets as they move through the process here:

You can also stay up-to-date on the legislature’s activities here.

As soon as the state budget is finalized, we will work with the Regents to set tuition rates for the next academic year. We will also know the amount of funding available, if any, for salary increases for the 2017–18 academic year. We will pass along information as it becomes available. If you have any questions or concerns about the University budget, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Campus climate and culture

We also are continuing our efforts to improve the campus culture and climate at our campuses system-wide. Our goal? To create a more welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone—faculty, staff, students, and visitors. In a recent email to the campus community, Provost Bernardo and Vice President for Student Affairs Gonzales announced a new initiative to expedite our progress. We already have received numerous suggestions via our new website, but we want to hear from you and we invite you to get involved in the process. We also have named the search committee that will lead the search for our new Associate Vice President for Community, Equity, and Inclusive Excellence.

I hope all of you are having a productive summer and also getting some time to enjoy the great Pacific Northwest outdoors. As always, please let me know if you have any questions or suggestions about how we can continue to make WSU a better place to work, learn, and play.

Go Cougs!