Welcome back to a new academic year

Dear Colleagues,

Welcome to the fall 2023 semester! I am always energized and excited as we begin each new academic year seeing our faculty and staff back on campus after summer breaks and welcoming returning students back home. This year, I also have the distinct pleasure of welcoming over 100 new faculty colleagues across the system alongside new first-year and transfer students. The collective excitement across all six of our campuses with returning and new Cougs is always energizing as we embark on a new school year.

We enter the fall semester with some tremendous positive momentum:

  • We anticipate welcoming the largest incoming class of new first-year and transfer students since 2020 — up over 4% from last year system-wide with notable increases in both in-state and out-of-state students.
  • WSU set a record for private giving to WSU eclipsing $167 million in total philanthropic support and surpassing last year’s record of just over $155 million.
  • Effective Oct. 1, WSU faculty and administrative professional staff will receive a 2.5% increase. Employees will see the increase on their Oct. 25 paycheck. Classified staff received a 4% general salary increase effective July 1. This represents the second year in a row we have been able to provide a minimum of 2.5% increases to faculty and staff. Information regarding these salary increases is available online.
  • We also received funding from the legislature for a multitude of new programs (including newly funded faculty and staff positions), salary raises, and building and maintenance support benefiting all of our campuses statewide. This past year represented one of the most comprehensive set of investments in WSU by the Washington Legislature over the past decade.
  • We also have good news to share on the capital construction front. We broke ground on the Agricultural Research Science building in partnership with USDA, cut the ribbon on the remodeled Medicine Building in Spokane, are less than a year away on the Life Sciences Building in Vancouver, are set to break ground on the Schweitzer Engineering Building in September, and will break ground on the Indoor Practice Facility using donor funds in the coming weeks.
  • We are preparing to launch a comprehensive marketing campaign to promote WSU both internally and externally. This new campaign, funded through philanthropic funds, will be the first comprehensive marketing effort since 2010.
  • We have continued to repurpose and redefine leadership positions to meet the changing needs of our campuses — and have provided overviews of these changes highlighting that these are retitled existing positions, rather than new positions, in the WSU system. In the Office of the WSU Pullman Chancellor, all but one of these positions existed previously at WSU and were reassigned to the Office of the Chancellor as part of the OneWSU system implementation. The Office of the Provost and WSU Spokane campus have undergone similar changes over the last year.

But there are still challenges ahead of us. In the COACHE and Employee Engagement surveys that were distributed last year, many of you provided helpful insights that will inform our actions over the next year. As the semester progresses, we will certainly communicate with the WSU community on action plans to address many of these long-standing issues identified by faculty, staff, and students across all six of our campuses. I will also be sure to provide regular updates on WSU’s future athletic conference affiliation.

All too often over the past year, we have spent a great deal of time on our challenges at the expense of celebrating the many achievements of WSU faculty, staff, and students. For the upcoming year, I will be providing a monthly letter that celebrates and highlights many of these successes so that we can all join our colleagues in celebrating their accomplishments and accolades.

I will be on our Vancouver campus for the start of the academic year, and I look forward to celebrating in person with our VanCoug community. Best wishes across the system for a great start to our 2023–24 school year!

It is a privilege to serve as president of WSU, and I look forward to an outstanding year together!

Go Cougs,

President, WSU System

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