PULLMAN, Wash. — In response to steadily rising sales of Cougar Gold and other cheese varieties, the Board of Regents of Washington State University gave the go-ahead Friday (Jan. 28) to a 6,300-square-foot addition to the WSU Creamery Annex on Dairy Road on the Pullman campus.

The addition will be a cooler to be used entirely for cheese storage. It will cost $1.31 million and will be paid for by the WSU Creamery, which is a self-supporting operation. The projected completion date is September 2005.

In 2004, the creamery produced 166,000 cans of Cougar Gold cheese and 221,000 cans of cheese overall, according to Russ Salvadalena, creamery manager. That represents a 23 percent increase in production of Cougar Gold and a 22 percent increase in all cheese varieties since 2000.

Cougar Gold and several other cheese varieties produced by the creamery must be aged at least one year, which creates the need for more storage. Salvadalena said the creamery expects further production increases this year.

Salvadalena said one factor in the increased cheese sales last year was the opening of the Washington State Connections retail store in Seattle’s Westlake Center. The store, which sells wine, cheese and Cougar-related apparel and products, sold about 5 percent of last year’s creamery cheese production after opening in June 2004, Salvadalena said.

In other action, the regents approved the establishment of benchmarks to measure the university’s progress in a wide range of areas. President V. Lane Rawlins and other administrators have been working on a series of goals for the university and will report back to the regents regularly on the progress that has been made.

Among those goals are continued controlled enrollment growth, if necessary funding is available; continued gains in academic quality of the incoming student body; increased diversity among faculty, staff and students; more competitive salaries for faculty members; increased graduate school enrollment; increased fundraising through the WSU Foundation and maintaining a balanced budget for athletics while fielding a competitive PAC-10 program.

The regents also approved two additional capital projects — a $1.3 million exterior restoration for Wilson Hall on the Pullman campus and a $2.5 million project to extend Loop Road and expand the north parking lot on the Vancouver campus.

The regents’ next regular meeting is scheduled for March 4 at WSU Vancouver.