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Washington State University Office of the Provost

Reflections on a memorable semester

Dear Colleagues,

As a memorable fall semester winds down, it’s a great time to reflect on the many achievements of our faculty, staff and students. As an institution, we’ve forged valuable partnerships and taken major steps in advancing our educational mission. Our collective efforts are truly making a difference for our students, our state, and beyond.

The following are just a sampling of the reasons our WSU community can take pride in looking back on the semester:

  • Our faculty are establishing WSU as a leader in the utilization of open education resources. WSU issued Affordable Learning Grants to faculty, who turned the investment into an estimated quarter-million dollars in savings for our students. In addition to the grant recipients, many more faculty have taken the initiative to reduce textbook and classroom material costs for their students. There will be another round of grant funding in 2018 to continue the momentum around this critical matter.
  • Our collective effort to support students is being borne out in the statistics. WSU is keeping more students on track to fulfill their educational goals, retaining 80.8 percent of freshman students from 2016 to 2017. First-year retention rose nearly two percentage points from the previous year.
  • The Honors College is offering a transformational experience for more and more high-achieving students. A record 290 first-year students enrolled in the Honors College this fall, including 14 national merit scholars, an all-time high for WSU. Honors students benefit from small classes taught be engaged faculty, and hands-on experiences that undergraduates at many schools rarely receive.
  • Cougs Rise is offering low-income and first-generation students programming designed to help them attain their goals of obtaining a college degree. The program partners with five Washington high schools to provide mentoring and a summer bridge program that improves students’ chances of succeeding at WSU. Cougs Rise is the latest student success initiative developed by the Office of the Provost through external grant funding.
  • The Provost’s Leadership Academy continues to foster leadership among our faculty. Now in its seventh year, 30 faculty members embarked on their PLA journey this fall. They will each complete programming and leadership projects throughout the spring and will leave better prepared to lead their respective areas in both official and unofficial capacities.
  • Keesha Matz was one of three Goldwater Scholars from WSU this year. The senior from Chehalis shared her story of determination, and credited the support and guidance of dedicated WSU faculty for helping her earn the prestigious honor.
  • The WSU Pullman campus welcomed Spokane Falls Community College’s Pullman branch, which relocated to the Math Learning Annex prior to the start of classes in September. The partnership creates great opportunities for students of both institutions, and leadership sees the union as a model for others to follow.
  • Led by Kelly Ward, vice provost for faculty development and recognition, our New Faculty Orientation program included a new series of workshops this fall. Following up on the kickoff event in August, the six workshops covered a wide variety of topics and gave our new faculty members resources and support to help them make smooth transitions to their new positions.
  • The Provost Perspective newsletter is delivered to inboxes monthly, highlighting the excellent work and achievements of WSU faculty, staff and students. The latest issue honors our Featured Faculty members and Pulitzer Prize in Music nominee Greg Yasinitsky, among others.
  • The inaugural Dean’s Days were held at our campuses throughout the semester. College deans and I visited with faculty and staff at each location. Undoubtedly, the face-to-face interactions are imperative as we strive to better understand each campuses’ issues and better facilitate connectivity across our system.

Thank you to everyone who made this semester special. We are excited about the direction WSU is headed, and believe the skill and passion of our faculty, staff and students will make 2018 even better.

Go Cougs!

Dan Bernardo

Provost and Executive Vice President

Washington State University