June 2019

Dear Faculty and Staff:

We almost have reached the midpoint of another fantastic Palouse summer. The wheat fields are still green, the mornings are cool and comfortable, and the post‑workday evenings are relaxing, with beautiful sunsets. I hope you are enjoying the season and recharging for the next academic year wherever you are spending the summer.

Noel and I recently loaded our Airstream with food and the 2 corgis and spent a week visiting southwest Washington and northwest Oregon. Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, and Tillamook were among the areas we explored. We also enjoyed spending time at the Lewis and Clark National Historical Park and just generally getting to know the Oregon coast.

I think you really get to know an area better by driving through it. During this recent trip, we drove from Spokane to the Astoria KOA (Kampgrounds of America), traveling through Seattle (towing a trailer on I‑5 is quite the experience!) and drove through 2 Washington counties (Grays Harbor and Pacific) for the first time. By next year at this time I hope I will have driven through all 39 of Washington’s counties!.


There is a lot of activity at all of our campuses throughout the summer. Here in Pullman, for example, we are well into the Alive! orientation sessions for incoming students that continue through the end of July. Please take time to welcome these future Cougs if you see them on campus. We also host a variety of youth camps on the Pullman campus during the summer, which provides another opportunity to introduce potential college students to all that WSU offers


The weeks following commencement ceremonies also are filled with many planning activities. Two of the most notable from recent weeks were our WSU Foundation trustee and directors meeting and one of our semiannual retreats with the University’s regents.

During the Foundation meeting, we discussed the excellent progress being made in setting the stage for the third philanthropic campaign for WSU. Often comprehensive fundraising programs involve multiple steps, including a “mum phase,” a “quiet phase,” and then a “public phase” for which a specific campaign fundraising goal is announced.

During WSU’s last campaign—The Campaign for Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas—more than 206,000 generous individuals and industry partners committed more than $1 billion during a 9-year period, concluding in 2015. Their investment in WSU provided much-needed resources for scholarships, professorships and chairs, facilities, and other priorities that continue to help fuel areas of academic, research, and service excellence across the WSU system.

Philanthropy is a team sport. To be successful at WSU, it involves the entire community of faculty, staff, students, University leadership, development professionals, alumni, friends, foundations, and corporate partners pulling together to provide financial resources to make a positive impact on the University.

As we discussed the third campaign with the Foundation trustees and directors, it became clear that we need to focus efforts on supporting 2 of our primary institutional goals: creation of a transformational student experience and development of a pre-eminent research portfolio.

We will continue conversations during the next year with the broader Cougar community to identify WSU’s greatest opportunities as well as our most audacious and inspirational ideas—all of which must be tied to the goals set out in our new 5-year strategic plan that is in development. I look forward to those discussions.

At the June retreat with the regents, the board approved tuition and fee rates for the upcoming academic year and the fiscal year 2020 WSU Athletics budget. I will provide additional details about the athletics budget in a future letter to the WSU community. It will include information about the steps we are taking to ensure Athletics meets the fiscal targets the regents established for upcoming years.

The state legislature funded a 3 percent general wage increase for each of the next 2 years for classified staff. The increase is effective July 1 both years. Meanwhile, we continue to work on determining the pool of funds that will be available for faculty and staff salary increases for the 2019–20 academic year. The 2.4% tuition increase that was approved is expected to generate some additional annual revenue to help fund those increases.

Once we finalize our end-of-the-fiscal year financial position and have a better idea of the number of students enrolling for the fall semester, we will announce both the timing and amount of the salary increase.

I know it is frustrating not to be able to share this information sooner. But I want to be sure that we understand our financial picture completely before making a final decision.


Earlier this week we received great news—the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine (ESFCOM) has been granted provisional accreditation by the Liaison Committee of Medical Education (LCME). This is the third of four major steps for the College of Medicine to achieve full accreditation.

I send a hearty congratulations to ESFCOM Founding Dean John Tomkowiak and his leadership team, WSU Spokane Chancellor Daryll DeWald, Provost Dan Bernardo, and everyone else across the WSU system who has worked to make our College of Medicine a reality.


As I start my fourth year serving as WSU’s president, I very much appreciate the opportunity to lead a public land‑grant research university impacting so many people across our great state. I come to work each morning excited about the progress we are making and remain optimistic about our future.

As always, please reach out to me with any questions or concerns.

I hope all of you have a happy Fourth of July.

Go Cougs!
Kirk