PULLMAN – The WSU Graduate School, using funds from an anonymous private donor, will provide $1.5 million over a five-year period to programs in veterinary medicine (School of Global Animal Health), molecular plant sciences and engineering science (Laboratory for Atmospheric Research).

“We are investing in proven excellence for one explicit purpose to foster a new type of graduate education model that will lead the world,” said Howard Grimes, vice provost and dean of the Graduate School.

President Elson S. Floyd said, “Taking a great program and making it truly exceptional is a challenge. By facing challenges and completing the work, we are keeping faith with the people who went before us and positioned our university to accomplish great things.”

In 2006, the Graduate Education Commission, a panel of WSU faculty asked to provide a road map for how to excel at graduate education, urged the Graduate School to find new financial resources and to invest these in key strategic areas.

“We have worked hard to find these new resources and will continue this effort. We have more work to do,” says Grimes.

Grimes said that while the programs have proven themselves to be nationally competitive, these grants will allow them to develop innovative approaches to doctoral education designed to prepare students for leadership in the globally competitive world of the 21st century. The goal is for these programs to establish themselves as signature programs for WSU and increase their presence as international leaders in their fields.
 
“You can feel the sense of purpose,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Robert Bates. “Our drive for excellence will require all of us if we are to move to the next level. Our efforts in building graduate and professional education are extraordinary.”
 
Global Animal Health
 
Veterinary Medicine (Global Animal Health) Guy Palmer, professor of veterinary medicine and National Academy of Sciences member, said that this funding will lead to the growth of two graduate programs in the College of Veterinary Medicine and the new School for Global Animal Health. Those programs will integrate laboratory and field-based research on disease transmission and prevention with economics, policy and political science.

“Students will develop an understanding of the interactions among business, governments, inter-governmental agencies and public interests as they relate to science-based animal health and food policy development. The programs will also bring in leaders in global animal health policy as professors-in-residence,” Palmer said.

“Because of the unique design of these graduate programs — blending rigorous academic training with experiential learning — students will be provided the unique opportunity to work and interact with top scientists, practitioners, and leaders in global animal health both on campus and in the field.”

Global Plant Sciences Initiative
David Kramer, professor and chair of molecular plant sciences, said that his program plans to use its share of the grant to dramatically increase the visibility, impact, and effectiveness of graduate education in plant sciences at WSU, and to provide more interaction between students and potential employers.

“By developing a new exchange and internship program with industry, national and academic research labs that allow students to experience real career environments, the program will help bridge the gap between the needs of employers and the skills we teach our students,” Kramer said.

“In addition, we plan to establish a Global Plant Sciences Initiative using on-line resources that will not only make WSU a source for accessing world expertise in plant sciences, but also expose our graduate students to advanced teaching techniques for on-line course preparation and delivery.”

Atmospheric Policy Trajectory
 
Engineering Science (Laboratory for Atmospheric Research) Brian Lamb, Regents Professor in civil and environmental engineering, said his program’s share of the funding will promote the new Atmospheric Policy Trajectory graduate program.

“We plan to enhance the hands-on research opportunities our students now enjoy with a suite of policy workshops and courses that will prepare participating students for a meaningful, substantial and completely funded internship opportunity within a policy setting,” Lamb said.

He said the program plans to provide support for overseas internships to broaden student opportunities. The goal is to prepare graduates with science skills and policy insights to become leaders in industry and government, and to undertake the public policy challenges associated with future air quality and climate change.

“Most graduate students are singularly focused on their dissertation and research,” Lamb said. “At WSU we hope to offer more exposure to the policy side of atmospheric research so they will be able to communicate with policy makers, which will lead to more opportunities.”