PULLMAN, Wash. – A new era of cooperation between WSU and Pullman began Tuesday with the signing of a memorandum of understanding by city and university leaders.

The agreement calls for working collaboratively to enhance the economic vitality of downtown Pullman as well as continuing to make the city a desirable community for residents, tourists, students and families.

“This is the perfect place for the signing of this MOU before city, the university and the chamber,” said Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, who was surrounded by black and white photos and other train memorabilia inside the Historic Pullman Depot and Heritage Center.

Representatives of the City of Pullman, the Pullman Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Pullman Association gathered alongside about three dozen community members for the event.

Each talked about the importance of the regular meetings between city and university officials were established with Schulz’s arrival in 2016.

“I never really imagined a couple of years ago I was invited to the first town and gown meeting we’d be in this position today,” said Tom Handy, president and chairman of the Downtown Pullman Association. “It has really turned out to be incredibly valuable for Pullman.”

Improving relations between the city and the university began with vital, sometimes difficult conversations about what was working and what wasn’t.

“When President Schulz came to lead Washington State University, we recognized we had an opportunity to reinvigorate and build on the relationship between the community and the university,” Marie Dymkoski, executive director of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce.

The path forward also required talking with business and community leaders about their vision for a vibrant and welcoming downtown.

“One of the things we’ve done was we hired a graduate student to interview business owners to ask what types of things were important to downtown and we were able to get concrete data,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said.

While signing members acknowledged Tuesday’s signing was a step in an ongoing process, each expressed excitement for what lies ahead.

“We will continue our mission of town and gown collaboration to make Pullman an exceptional town,” Dymkoski said. “We are well on our way to that goal.”