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Washington State University
Office of the President Past Presidents

Elson S. Floyd


Elson S. Floyd was named Washington State University’s 10th president on December 13, 2006. He took office on May 21, 2007 and died on June 20, 2015, of complications from colon cancer.

Floyd transformed WSU into a top-tier research university while navigating some of the worst fiscal challenges in the institution’s history. Under his leadership:

  • Overall student enrollment grew to record highs, reaching 28,686 in fall 2014. The number of students of color nearly doubled.
  • Annual research expenditures grew by 57.5 percent from approximately $213.2 million in 2007 to more than $335.9 million in 2015, placing WSU in the top 11 percent of public universities for research funding.
  • All of WSU’s health sciences programs were consolidated on its Spokane campus, including the colleges of nursing and pharmacy, and the new College of Medical Sciences.
  • WSU won bipartisan support in the Washington state legislature to create its own, separately accredited medical school at WSU Health Sciences Spokane.
  • WSU completed 30 major construction projects from 2007–2015, including one of the world’s most technologically advanced wine science centers at WSU Tri- Cities.
  • The Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health opened with anchor gifts from Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
  • The University successfully completed the $1 billion fundraising Campaign for Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas.

Affectionately known as “E Flo,” President Floyd was a favorite among WSU students. He always went out of his way to greet and visit with the students he encountered and knew many of them by name. He once told a student reporter that as a college student he often felt invisible and didn’t want any WSU student to feel that way. He and his wife, Carmento, attended many student-centered activities, including WSU sports events where they were known to cheer from the student section. Thousands of students followed a Twitter account Dr. Floyd started as a way to better connect with them. He gave many students his personal cell phone number and encouraged them to contact him if they needed anything.

President Floyd was deeply committed to WSU’s land-grant mission. He was a visionary with enormous understanding of the modern land-grant university and the manner in which it should serve the public. He pursued educational programs and research efforts that aligned the resources of WSU with the needs of Washington state and its people. A champion of broadening access to higher education, President Floyd expanded WSU’s campuses in Spokane, Tri Cities, and Vancouver, and established the Global Campus and WSU North Puget Sound at Everett.

Academic field

Higher and Adult Education, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Major challenges

Maintaining academic quality in the face of the largest cuts in state allocations in WSU’s history


Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine