Happy Pride! As we wrap up June, I want to highlight the critical work that our LGBTQ+ colleagues are leading to ensure that WSU remains an inclusive, safe place. I am continually amazed by the efforts of our faculty, staff and students to ensure that everyone feels welcomed into the Cougar family. I’d like to give a special call out to Rocky Lucas, a social worker in the College of Veterinary Medicine, for his work with the President’s Commission on Gender Identity/Expression and Sexual Orientation, and Meghan Fitzpatrick, a Doctor of Nursing Practice student, for their final project research in collecting sexual orientation and gender identity information for patients in healthcare settings.

As we gear up for fall, I’d also like to encourage everyone to take the LGBTQ+ Ally Training available through HRS. As we all return back to our physical offices, it’s important to remember that this summer will be a time of change. Some of us have worked remotely since March 2020, while others have been on campus throughout the pandemic. As our WSU campuses re‑open fully over the next several weeks, I would like to pass along some lessons I’ve learned since re‑engaging in‑person:

  • Give yourself some time to adjust. My days, when virtually everything was on Zoom, were very efficient. I could move from meeting to meeting without having to leave my work area, allowing me to do an incredibly large number of meetings in a single day—all while wearing comfortable clothes! I’ve had to learn to adjust to dressing in appropriate work attire again. I’ve also learned I need to leave more transition time between in‑person meetings.
  • I can no longer “double‑task” during meetings. During Zoom meetings, I was able to do multiple things at once, like chat and email. When I started to do more in‑person meetings I found I could no longer multitask at the same level and at the end of the day I felt really behind. I’ve had to learn to adjust my personal expectations for the day.
  • I have also had to learn how to interact with people again face-to-face, as this has really been limited these last 18 months. Personal interactions as simple as shaking hands are a novelty right now. I am constantly reminding myself to give people time and ensure that we are interacting in ways where both parties are comfortable.

Each of you will have your own observations as we resume more in‑person interactions. I would welcome hearing your own thoughts as to what you need to get used to, as many people move back towards a more traditional working environment.

Like many of you, I try and stay connected to work most of the time, which is made easier by always having a computer in my pocket. However, when I go on vacation, I do my best to disconnect from work by not checking email, responding to work texts, posting on social media, or calling into the office. The purpose of vacation is to mentally rest and refresh, so I urge all of you to disconnect from your busy work lives sometime this summer. Whether you get to travel to somewhere exotic or do a staycation at home, I hope each of you find some time for relaxation.

Noel, Cayenne, and I are getting ready for our annual long camping trip in the Airstream. This camping season we have already been able to camp in Redwood National Park, Coeur d’Alene, Lake Chelan State Park, and Copalis Beach. Our trip this year will take us to see several national parks including Mount Rushmore, Badlands, Wind Cave, and Yellowstone. In addition to some cocktails around the campfire, I am looking forward to some outdoor cooking, day hikes, and bike rides. I have also downloaded some classic science fiction favorites from Jack Chalker (the Well World series) and Robert Heinlein for some relaxing evening reading.

I was asked a week or two ago about what I am looking forward to for the fall semester for WSU. I have quite a list. I can’t wait to see students, faculty, and staff walking around our campuses, a full Martin Stadium on a football Saturday, and classrooms full of students learning new subjects and being exposed to new ideas. No matter where you are in the world, I know you will have your own set of things you have missed during this time.

I hope all of you have a fantastic Fourth of July and are finding ways to stay cool and comfortable during this unusual Northwest heat wave. And, please, if you’re able, get vaccinated.

Go Cougs,

Kirk Schulz, President
Washington State University