It seems like yesterday that we were starting the new academic year, but finals have arrived and Fall Commencement is behind us. This is a busy time of year, and I am always amazed and appreciative of the incredible work that our dedicated faculty, staff, and students do every day to make Washington State University a better place. The fall semester included impressive accomplishments and breakthroughs in a number of areas, and we’re poised for an excellent 2019.
Here is a look back at just some of the highlights from Academic Affairs over the last four months:
- We welcomed a record number of students across the WSU system at the start of the fall semester. The total of 31,478 students included a record freshman class of 4,543 at WSU Pullman. The WSU Everett campus experienced an increase in enrollment of 23.9 percent to 275 students, and enrollment at WSU Spokane, buoyed by the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, increased by 3.8 percent to 1,677 students.
- President Kirk Schulz and I hosted a series of town hall meetings throughout September and October. In visiting with each campus, college and auxiliary unit we received excellent feedback and great input that we will use to help plan for the months and years ahead. The deans and I also held our annual Deans’ Day on the Everett, Tri-Cities, and Vancouver campuses.
- We continued to make excellent progress in restoring the financial health of our academic units. All colleges met their financial targets in FY18, and by the end of FY19, we are projecting all colleges to have a positive annual run rate (i.e., revenues exceeding expenses).
- The University is implementing early academic referrals for students who fall behind or may need to utilize University resources to supplement time in class. Look for more to come on this front in the coming months.
- We welcomed the eighth cohort of the Provost’s Leadership Academy (PLA) this fall. Over 50 percent of PLA graduates take on leadership roles in the university, including Brenda Barrio and Mark Beattie who have both stepped into leadership and are doing outstanding work in their respective fields.
- Cougs Rise is offering a unique opportunity for students transition to WSU to gain excellent college preparation through a series of high-impact practices designed to influence long-term success. The program is now adding a valuable STEM component thanks to additional funding from the U.S. Department of Education.
- Our University is one of the region’s leaders in developing and adopting affordable classroom materials. Faculty at WSU have saved students close to $1 million over the past two academic years through documented use of open education resources.
- The Office of the Provost partnered with several offices and departments across WSU to establish the Creative Corridor. The Corridor offers students the chance to work on creative projects independent of curriculum, and the results are often fascinating.
The Office of the Provost continues to lead a wide-array of units and programs. Two unique and meaningful endeavors are Tribal Affairs and the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art.
- Barbara Aston has led our Office of the Tribal Liaison for many years and has served WSU faithfully for more than 30 years. We wish Barbara all the best in her upcoming retirement early next year, while welcoming Zoe Higheagle Strong, who was selected to serve as executive director of Tribal Relations and special assistant to the provost, beginning January 10.
- This year we opened the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, a fabulous facility, and welcomed the gifted and experienced Robin Held as our new Executive Director.
We sincerely appreciate the tireless efforts from all of our faculty and staff, who truly deliver transformational experiences for our students. Enjoy a restful holiday season and all the best in the New Year!
Provost and Executive Vice President