PULLMAN, Wash. — New Washington State University student body president Jesse Keene has never been a stranger to the university.

“WSU is what college is meant to be,” Keene said. “WSU provides students with a well-rounded education. You receive an education about other cultures and people in so many ways.

“Being a Coug gives you a sense of pride that no other institution in the world can,” he said.

Keene credits his family with helping him select the university. “My paternal grandfather (Philip Keene) was one of the biggest reasons that I came to WSU. He was full of Cougar pride and encouraged his family to attend,” the ASWSU president said.

The elder Keene knew more about WSU than most grandfathers. He worked for WSU from 1945-73 as university architect and later as director of facilities planning. During his tenure at WSU, he worked closely on the design of many buildings, including Todd Hall, Holland Library, French Administration Building and Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum.

Jesse’s dad, Spencer Keene, of University Place and mother, Rebecca Keene, of Tacoma both graduated from WSU — Spencer in 1966 with a degree in graphic design and Rebecca in 1972 with a fine arts degree. Several aunts and uncles are also Cougars.

The new ASWSU president has been involved in student government since his freshman year. He was appointed to fill a vacant spot on the student senate and then ran for re-election the next year. During the 2000-01 school year, Keene was the ASWSU chief-of-staff.

The 1998 graduate of Stadium High School in Tacoma, is a junior majoring in political science with a pre-law emphasis and history minor. He is a member of the Honors College and Phi Eta Sigma honor society, and was honored as a Mortar Board Outstanding Freshman Scholar.

“My (Phi Kappa Theta) fraternity brothers have supported me throughout my time at WSU,” said Keene. “Their friendship and encouragement has meant the world to me. Their confirmation has helped me reach my goals.”

Keene and vice president Annie Brown of Bellevue are working on several issues before student government. “The ensured operation of the new Student Recreation Center and students tuition and fees will always be of critical importance,” he said.

The ASWSU president plans to encourage student involvement on campus. He wants to build strong working relationships with the WSU administration and City of Pullman. “We will be working very hard to let students know what their leaders are doing,” Keene said.

The new student government leader said ASWSU funding of student activities is one of the biggest challenges ahead. “There are too many deserving groups and not enough money to go around,” he added.

However, there are many students who can help student government at WSU grow.

“I hope students will contact me with their ideas and concerns,” Keene said. “I think I am approachable, and I know I like talking.”

Keene can be reached at 509/335-9676 or jskeene@wsu.edu.