PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University must continue to “chart its own course” by recruiting more quality students and strengthening academic programs, President V. Lane Rawlins told several hundred faculty, staff and students at the Fall Address Thursday afternoon.

Rawlins praised increasing enrollment numbers, saying it would give the university more credibility with the Washington Legislature, but stressed WSU is pursuing quality students, not quantity.

He cited a $3 million scholarship program for high-achieving high school seniors and new facilities on campus, particularly the student recreation center, as “one leg of the stool” for drawing higher quality students. The next step is re-evaluating academic programs, he said, and WSU should seek a balance between teaching and research.

Additionally, the president described faculty salaries increases and a growing operating budget as the “highlight” of his year but also outlined a number of other accomplishments including improved relations with the surrounding community and energy belt-tightening that saved hundreds of thousands.

Calling WSU “a safe harbor,” Rawlins also noted that while he has seen “cracks in our veneer this year,” the university is making progress toward helping a diverse group of people feel welcome, particularly after last week’s terrorist attacks. He encouraged staff and faculty to make a particular effort to reach out to students.

“WSU holds the only real weapons,” he said. “For education and understanding are the only real things we have.”