Reflecting on the spring semester

Dear WSU community,

Happy Spring, Cougs. After spending the first two weeks of May attending back-to-back commencements celebrating our most recent class of Cougar graduates, I find myself reflecting on the reasons faculty, staff, and administrators are called to higher education in the first place. It wasn’t because anyone told us to, but because we want to make a difference in people’s lives through education.

Looking out over the crowd of graduates at WSU Vancouver and WSU Spokane, supported by their families, friends, and professors, I was reminded that while there may be a lot of noise surrounding higher education today, WSU continues to provide meaningful education that is transforming the lives of our graduates and our state.

This does not diminish the fact there are larger challenges facing WSU and higher education. In the wake of continued debate around free speech and institutional responses to campus protests, for example, I would like to re‑emphasize the importance of our shared humanity:

At WSU, freedom of speech and expression is central to who we are.

Free speech and civil discourse are defining features of a democratic society and the cornerstones of postsecondary education. Societal progress does not come without vigorous debate and the free exchange of ideas, and your voices, insights, and perspectives are inherently valuable.

No matter the circumstances, Cougs care for Cougs.

From students to faculty to staff and upper administration, we all have a responsibility to care for one another. That means ensuring the safety of the entire campus community by treating each other with respect and acting with integrity in the face of disagreement. While we all might have differing opinions on a topic or issue, it’s important to remember our shared humanity.

For me, that shared humanity was on full display these last two weekends. As graduates from all walks of life were handed the degrees they’d worked so hard for, many looked to the crowd to acknowledge the people who’d supported them on their journey. While their routes to commencement may not have looked the same, the thread connecting each of our 2024 graduates is that they did not go it alone.

As you make your summer plans, I hope that you take care of yourself and try to spend time with your friends and family. Our communities are the greatest resource we have in times of great strife and even greater joy. Remember that WSU is here for you, and there are people in place to help you should you need it.


President, WSU System