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Washington State University
Office of the President News and Notes

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 …

Give a life-saving gift this holiday season

Dear Cougar Community:

There’s a potentially life-saving gift we can give each other this upcoming holiday season: doing our part to mitigate the spread of COVID‑19.

Extra vigilance is required by all of us as virus cases surge and many prepare to spend time with loved ones during the upcoming Thanksgiving and winter breaks.

It is tempting to relax safety measures around the family and friends we typically spend time with during breaks and holidays. But COVID‑19 is overwhelming many of our communities. You can be contagious and pass along the virus before you show symptoms or feel sick. We recognize how challenging it can … » More …

Moving the system strategic plan forward

October 2020

Dear Faculty and Staff:

Happy Halloween week! I hope the big day conjures up as many happy memories for you as it does for me.

I clearly remember the excitement as a child of going trick‑or‑treating in our neighborhood in Virginia. There was the neighbor that always forgot about Halloween and would rummage around their house for some fruit (apples or oranges). Another set of neighbors (the ones with no children!) would give us a handful of candy. And there were the neighbors who were delighted by our homemade costumes. Recalling those days still brings a smile to my face.

Here’s a little … » More …

Fall 2020 Commencement to be virtual

Dear Cougar Community:

After careful consideration, University leadership has made the decision to celebrate our fall 2020 graduates in a virtual commencement ceremony on December 12. In the end, canceling our in‑person celebration in the interest of keeping our graduates and their families safe outweighed our wishes to hold a traditional commencement exercise.

Reaching this significant life milestone is an occasion that merits a celebratory gathering of everyone involved in the successful pursuit of a college degree: family, other loved ones, faculty, staff, and administrators. Please know that our commencement team is hard at work planning a memorable virtual ceremony. Details about the event have been … » More …

WSU’s Plans for the Spring 2021 Semester

Dear WSU Community:

Thank you again for your continuing adaptability this semester as we partner to protect the health and safety of our community during this ongoing public health crisis. The extraordinary effort that each of you has demonstrated on a daily basis is inspiring and deeply appreciated.

That same type of adaptability will be necessary for spring semester. With the goal of continuing to reduce the risk of spreading COVID‑19 in our communities, we announced this morning some changes to the spring 2021 semester academic calendar.

Spring semester systemwide now will begin January 19, which is about a week later than originally planned. The delay gives … » More …