Dear Faculty and Staff:
Congratulations on finishing the first 5 weeks of the fall semester. I
appreciate the excellent work all of you are doing in using technology to
support our students both in and out of the classroom. As I visit with
various student groups, I continue to hear positive feedback about the
extra efforts each of you is making to ensure our students receive the
best Cougar experience possible.
One of the key opportunities identified through our recent strategic
planning efforts is to continue the development of the WSU system. During
the last several years we have been evolving from a “hub‑and‑spoke” model,
in which WSU Pullman is the central hub and each of the other campuses is
a spoke, to a more interconnected and interdependent system of campuses
across the state of Washington. For me, this is part of our ongoing
efforts to better serve the needs of our state and its residents as we
fulfill our land‑grant mission.
As we continue this work, I want to be clear that each of our 6 campuses
brings unique attributes to Washington State University—and we should not
consider any of our locations “mini Pullmans.” During my time as president
I have visited and interacted with faculty, staff, and students at all of
our campuses, and it has been abundantly clear that people choose their
specific campus because they like the unique aspects that each brings to
the system while simultaneously being part of the larger WSU family. Each
community—whether a physical location or online—strongly values having a
WSU campus and expects its campus will focus on helping it grow and thrive.
We must continue to find ways to embrace the geographical and cultural
diversity of our campuses and not attempt to make them identical.
We have taken several steps in the last 12 to 18 months to continue
our evolution toward creating a more interconnected and interdependent
set of campuses:
- We commissioned a report on system‑level roles and responsibilities.
This comprehensive analysis provides more than 50 recommendations to assist
the maturation of the WSU system. A working group led by Chip Hunter, dean
of the Carson College of Business, completed the report in May. Chip was
assisted by Laura Griner‑Hill, senior vice provost; Theresa Elliot‑Cheslek,
vice president and chief human resource officer; Sandra Haynes, WSU Tri‑Cities
chancellor; and AG Rud, distinguished professor of cultural studies and social
thought in education and past Faculty Senate chair.
- Several recommendations in the roles and responsibilities report propose
creating various groups of individuals that would assist in making system‑level
decisions or recommendations. We currently have created several of these groups
and are forming others as recommended. The Faculty Senate has provided
suggestions for faculty representation on several of these groups to ensure
system operations continue to operate in a spirit of shared governance.
- We completed our first‑ever 5‑year WSU system strategic plan, which was
approved by the WSU Board of Regents during the board’s June meeting.
There are also several other aspects of our system optimization efforts
that are ongoing:
- We have been reticent to assign designations to our 6 campuses, but it is
clear that in order to have an interconnected set of unique campuses each needs
a distinct designation, mission, and vision while remaining aligned with the
One WSU system operating principles identified in the system five‑year strategic
plan. I am suggesting that we use the following designations moving forward:
- Online campus: Global.
The WSU Global campus provides opportunities for
students to complete a WSU degree from anywhere around the world, with no
constraints on location.
- Flagship campus: Pullman.
The WSU Pullman campus is the largest and most
established campus in the WSU system and has significant numbers of both
residential undergraduate and graduate students. It is the focal point for a
significant majority of research and scholarship.
- Health Sciences campus: Spokane.
The WSU Spokane campus is statewide in scope and is the center for
education and research in nursing, medicine, and pharmacy.
- Regional campuses: Everett, Tri‑Cities, and Vancouver.
The WSU Tri‑Cities
and WSU Vancouver campuses offer bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in
a wide range of fields. The WSU Everett campus emphasizes opportunities for
students in the north Puget Sound area to earn a WSU bachelor’s degree with a
special emphasis on industry-aligned learning and applied research.
- We are establishing an executive budget committee, cochaired by Provost
Elizabeth Chilton and Vice President for Finance and Administration Stacy
Pearson. The current WSU budget is a patchwork of various financial decisions
made over the last 30 years that often do not reflect current best practices.
This group will be tasked with formulating an improved budgetary model for
the WSU system that will seek to appropriately fund current activities as well
as provide funds for new strategic initiatives.
- We have created a WSU Pullman strategic planning group, chaired by Vice Provost
Craig Parks, Student Affairs Associate Vice President Jaime Nolan, and College of
Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences Dean André Wright, that will
lead development of a 5‑year strategic plan for the Pullman campus. Having a
distinct set of strategic priorities for the Pullman campus will further help to
identify the distinctiveness and uniqueness of the flagship campus, while also
emphasizing its role in the larger 6‑campus system.
- We also have asked each chancellor, vice chancellor, dean, and vice president
to self‑identify campus-specific as well as system responsibilities. We will use
this information to develop comprehensive position descriptions that clearly
delineate responsibilities in both areas. It is critical to WSU’s future that
we specify who has responsibilities for system leadership and campus leadership
As always, I welcome your thoughts and suggestions as we continue to reshape
the WSU system to meet the needs of our students, faculty and staff, as well as
the communities we serve across our state.
As we move deeper into the fall, please remember to take time for yourselves
during this challenging time.