Continuing to build and refine his administrative team, WSU President Elson S. Floyd announced today that Sally Savage will become the university’s general counsel, effective Nov. 1.

Savage serves as WSU’s vice president of University Relations, a position she has held since 2000. However, her primary professional expertise — spanning nearly 30 years — is the law.

Tim Pavish, executive director of Alumni Relations and the WSU Alumni Association since September 2003, in turn, has been named to serve as the interim vice president of university relations, until a search for that position can be completed.

Savage came to WSU in 1978 as an assistant attorney general. Two years later she was named the senior assistant attorney general for the university. In 1990, then President Samuel H. Smith hired Savage to serve as university counsel in his office. Eight years later her role was expanded to also serve as the vice president of administration.

In 2000, President V. Lane Rawlins named her vice president of University Relations, where she has overseen a staff of approximately 150 people, including Marketing Communications, Alumni Relations, the WSU News Service, the Washington State Magazine, WSU Today, University Events, Beasley Performing Arts Coliseum and University Publications.

Savage holds a bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Macalester College, St. Paul, Minn., and a juris doctorate from the University of Idaho.

“Sally Savage has done an absolutely marvelous job as vice president of University Relations,” said Floyd. “She helped guide the launching and development of a highly successfully integrated marketing initiative, which has helped to position WSU as a leading research university in the state and nation. She has overseen the creation of the Marketing Communications department, launching of the Washington State Magazine and WSU Today, significant growth of the WSU Alumni Association, and has provided superb management to her entire division. 

“Given WSU’s ongoing expansion into many realms, it has become evident that her skills and extensive legal experience are needed on a full-time basis as part of my administration. I am delighted to be able to appoint someone with such a depth of experience in the law and higher education.  Sally’s long history at WSU and her deep familiarity with our university make her uniquely qualified for this assignment, and for this reason I elected to appoint her to this position without conducting an external search,” he said.

“A land grant research university like WSU is an extremely complex organization,” Savage said. “From a legal and business standpoint, it is similar to a combination of a multinational corporation and a municipality, with activities on both the public and private side. We have campuses, offices and research activities in every county in the state; patents; human resource issues; working relationships with nonprofit and for-profit organizations, as well as with the state and federal governments; international activities; student and employee liabilities; and much more.

“Although some of the duties of this position are similar to what I have done in the past, the university has grown dramatically and become much more complex.”

The Attorney General’s Office in Washington provides legal representation to all state agencies, Savage noted, which WSU utilizes regularly. “But it is very helpful for that office to have a point of connection with whom to work on legal and administrative issues. The Attorney General’s office provides excellent advice on what the laws are, but in the end it is the administration which must make the decisions. That’s where this position provides administrators with needed legal perspective in the decision-making process.”

“I have enjoyed my work in University Relations tremendously, and am very proud of what we have accomplished for WSU,” Savage said.  “At the same time, I am looking forward to again using my legal expertise to assist WSU’s leadership.”

Pavish graduated from WSU’s Edward R. Murrow School of Communication in 1980 with a degree in advertising. Before coming to WSU, he was a managing partner in the Seattle office of DDB Worldwide Communications, an international advertising, public relations and communications agency.

Over the past four years, the WSU Alumni Association has expanded its services, benefits and communication efforts, resulting in a 40 percent increase in alumni membership, growing from 16,000 to 22,500. Based on its size, Pavish said, WSU Alumni Association has grown faster than comparable university associations nationwide.

For more information about Savage click here and for more information about Pavish click here.