Reporters: Dr. Bates can be reached via his cell phone at 540/230-5758. He will check his voice mail often.
PULLMAN, Wash. — Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins has named longtime Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University administrator Robert C. Bates as WSU Provost and Academic Vice President.
Bates, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of microbiology at the Virginia institution, begins the WSU position in January.
“Bob is the right person for the position; the fit is excellent,” Rawlins said. “We are thrilled that he has decided to accept the post.”
Rawlins said the entire university community was behind Bates’ selection. “It was clear, from the first time Bob visited, that he was the choice. His background, experience and character seem to fit very well with our team. We all will benefit from his commitment to join the university.”
Bates leads Virginia Tech’s largest college, comprised of five divisions including the fine and performing arts, humanities, social sciences, natural and physical sciences, and mathematical sciences, as well as three ROTC units. The college has 625 faculty, 170 support staff, 1,000 graduate students and more than 7,000 undergraduate majors.
With his leadership, the college has a tradition of strong collaboration in the tri-partite mission of teaching, research and outreach. He has been instrumental in fostering cross-disciplinary instruction and research teams in the college and across the university that also extend to outreach, including service-learning and international program development.
Bates has strongly supported diversity issues. He was instrumental in developing a revised faculty-hiring plan that more successfully addresses his college’s diversity issues. The plan now is being adopted by the full university.
Bates directed the college’s resource allocation process in the mid-1990s. That approach has influenced discussions by the university for its resource review process.
As WSU’s chief academic leader, Bates will be responsible for all academic issues, ensuring the excellence of the WSU programs. His early plans will include meetings throughout the state with students, faculty, staff and administrators to become familiar with all aspects of WSU’s land-grant mission.
“I want to get acquainted with the university, its goals, aspirations and needs so we can work together to make this fine institution even better,” he said.
“I have been away from WSU and the Northwest for some 33 years, but I still vividly remember the positive experiences during my years in Pullman,” said Bates, who earned his master’s degree in bacteriology and public health at WSU in 1969. “The mentoring gained from faculty during this formative time prepared me well for the challenges and opportunities that would eventually come during my career.”
The new administrator said even during his brief visits he saw that the enthusiasm continues. “The student-centered environment where graduate and undergraduate students work closely with faculty members is quite apparent.”
Bates said WSU branch campuses, combined with the network of Learning Centers, research centers and Cooperative Extension offices position the university to make world-class, distance-degree learning opportunities available throughout the state and nation.
The WSU administrator is a member of the American Society of Biological Chemists, American Association for the Advancement of Science, Society of Sigma Xi and American Society for Virology.
He has conducted research on molecular biology of parvoviruses and received numerous research grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and American Cancer Society. He directed research of several master- and doctoral-level graduates. In addition to teaching courses in microbiology and virology, he has published 47 referred book chapters and journal articles, as well as 15 technical reports on virus topics.
Recently, Bates learned he would be recognized as one of 20 individuals in Colorado State University’s Gallery of Contemporary Scientists.
Bates earned his bachelor’s degree from Lewis and Clark College, Portland, Ore., in 1966. The Portland native received a Ph.D. in microbiology with a specialty in virology from Colorado State University in 1972. Bates’ wife, Wendy Kennard Bates, who grew up in Tacoma, earned her bachelor’s degree in elementary education at WSU in 1968. The couple, who met while studying at WSU, have three adult children.