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Washington State University
Office of the President News and Notes

Coming together during challenging times

Dear Faculty and Staff:

There’s no doubt navigating the challenges of this past year have been incredibly difficult for all of us. COVID‑19, the need to support students, family caregiving responsibilities, financial worries, systemic racism, and political division are among the stressors in our lives as we approach the one‑year mark of the pandemic.

Yet despite all of the hurdles, I remain impressed by the resilience, innovation, and Cougar spirit demonstrated across the system. I am so deeply appreciative, grateful, and proud of all that you have done to support the educational experience of our students.

Knowing that you may be feeling exhausted and overwhelmed, … » More …

Next steps in advancing ONEWSU concept

Dear Faculty and Staff:

We hope this note finds you well as we all continue to deal with the challenges of COVID‑19.

It is encouraging to see signs of progress in the effort to get the pandemic under control in the United States—not the least of which is getting vaccines into the arms of Americans coast to coast. Viewed from a medical and scientific perspective, it is an amazing feat to develop and manufacture large amounts of an effective vaccine in such a compressed timeframe.

As the vaccine rollout proceeds, we will continue to make decisions guided by a safety-first mentality as we plan to » More …

Standing together against antisemitism

To our WSU community:

We are shocked and horrified by the antisemitic graffiti and damage to the Holocaust memorial at Temple Beth Shalom in Spokane on Monday. While this desecration did not take place on our Spokane campus, we join our Jewish friends and neighbors as well as the greater community in denouncing these acts in the strongest terms possible. That this hate crime occurred just two weeks after International Holocaust Remembrance Day intensifies the depth of our anger.

As a Cougar Community, we do not tolerate hate or hate crimes. Acts and expressions of antisemitism undermine the educational process and directly contradict our core values. We … » More …

Black History Month calls us to ponder shared humanity

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

“My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.”

Those words of famed South African cleric and anti-apartheid and human rights activist Desmond Tutu seem particularly appropriate to ponder as we celebrate Black History Month throughout February.

For even as we recognize the enormous achievements and contributions of African Americans to culture, politics, and society at large this month, we must equally focus on the injustices that have hobbled and halted the path toward true freedom and equality. As Tutu suggests, embracing and equally valuing the dignity of all lives is the ultimate measure of our … » More …

Working toward an in-person WSU experience

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff:

Navigating the challenges of COVID‑19 together as a Cougar community has taught us much about the resiliency of the human spirit. We have sacrificed individually and collectively while simultaneously adapting to a redefined world, a world requiring new pathways to pursue our goals and hopes and dreams. Your own courage and grit have humbled and inspired us.

Knowing these sacrifices makes today’s announcement even more special: while details remain to be finalized, we are planning for a robust in‑person student experience both inside and outside the classroom for fall 2021 and beyond. While each of our campus locations around the state … » More …

Signs of hope surround us

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

There’s no doubt our lives have been upended to varying degrees during the past 10 months. COVID‑19. Racial injustice. A roller-coaster economy. Political upheaval and related violence. Diminishing availability of vital health and social services. Devastating natural disasters from coast to coast.

In such a gloomy environment, it’s easy to lose sight of reasons for hope. Yet, as we begin a new semester, hopeful signs surround us.

Effective vaccines for COVID‑19 were developed with unprecedented speed. Though the initial distribution of the vaccines was slower than anticipated, the pace is expected to increase dramatically in the coming weeks.

Despite unprecedented challenges to … » More …

MLK’s call for action more urgent than ever

Dear Faculty, Staff, and Students:

Monday’s annual commemoration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life should be a soul-stirring call to deeply examine, reflect on, and—most importantly—act to change systemic injustices that have long tarnished widely espoused American ideals about freedom, equality, and opportunity for all.

The evidence driving this need for self‑examination is undeniably and painfully visible. Indeed, current events cry out to us for urgent action, demanding that we attend to racial injustice and that we rediscover and rebuild our common humanity.

The high visibility, race‑based violence of the past year that roiled the country has provided stark reminders of our collective failures and shortcomings … » More …

D.C. violence: time to say enough is enough

Shocking. Heartbreaking. An unprecedented threat to American democratic ideals that we have cherished for nearly 250 years.

Those are just a few of the thoughts that immediately came to mind as destruction and violence unfolded this afternoon in Washington, D.C., when Congress convened to certify the Electoral College results from the U.S. presidential election.

Free speech—including the right to protest—is a bedrock principle of the U.S. Constitution. We can—and should—debate and disagree on policies and about our country’s direction.

But when free speech leads to an ideology of white supremacy, destruction, injury, death, and anarchy that tears the fabric of an election process central to … » More …

Appreciation for a successful semester

December 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As we prepare to celebrate the holidays and close out 2020, I want to take a moment to extend my sincere appreciation to you for the conclusion of a successful fall semester. Just a year ago, I wrote to you describing the University’s recent accomplishments and the optimism I felt about 2020. How little did I—or any of us—know about the challenges awaiting in the new year.

I have been involved in higher education for nearly 30 years, and the past 9 months certainly have been the most challenging of my career as an academic leader. The combination of a global pandemic, a … » More …

Wrapping up the fall semester

December 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Happy post-Thanksgiving. I hope that your holiday was restful as we get ready to finish up the fall semester.

Noel and I enjoyed a quiet Thanksgiving together. Typically, we host a larger family gathering prior to attending the Apple Cup football festivities, but alas COVID‑19 precautions meant everyone else stayed home. As a result, we cut back on the amount of food we cooked. Even so, there were lots of leftovers to enjoy for a few days.

During time away from work I typically break out my Mastering the Art of French Cooking (Volume 1) cookbook by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle, and Simone Beck. … » More …