PULLMAN, Wash. – Following extensive input from many key university stakeholders, the Board of Regents is announcing the completion of the comprehensive assessment of Washington State University President Kirk Schulz.
The review, undertaken in accordance with WSU Board of Regents bylaws, cited the righting of the university’s finances, the realization of ambitious plans for health education in Spokane, and Schulz’s public accessibility, as chief accomplishments since arriving in 2016.
“Several common themes emerged as we analyzed the feedback from our university community,” said Brett Blankenship, chair of the WSU Board of Regents. “Throughout his appointment as president of Washington State University, Kirk has shown himself to be the leader our system needs. He proved himself capable of dealing with the immense budgetary challenges he faced upon arriving here at WSU, and I’m confident the community will continue to see those skills on display as we look ahead to the challenges posed by the COVID‑19 pandemic. There was also a common thread in the interviews of the shared vision of the president, and a universal desire to have the president succeed in those goals.”
The assessment was completed by Kevin Reilly, a senior consultant with AGB Consulting. It was undertaken in compliance with Board Policy #6, which requires a comprehensive assessment of the university president every three to four years.
The complete review can be read on the Board of Regents website.
Nearly 70 people were interviewed, including university students, staff, faculty, deans, alumni and board members of the WSU Foundation. Members of the Board of Regents offered feedback in the spring on a draft report, which was then amended and finalized in accordance with the expected timeline.
Reilly acknowledged the COVID‑19 pandemic in the report, stating that everything therein, including WSU’s challenges going forward, need to be read with the ongoing financial fallout in mind.
Among the most pressing challenges ahead for WSU is the question of “systemness,” according to Reilly.
“As Washington State University morphs from a single institution into a system, it is fair to say that it is in the process of figuring out what that equilibrium should be and how to get there,” the report states.
Another issue is the future of the Drive to 25 effort, especially in light of the budget challenges brought on by the COVID‑19 pandemic.
Marty Dickinson, vice chair of the Board of Regents, noted that Schulz has already committed to enhancing communication between himself and the governing body and will continue to work toward greater external outreach and visibility across the state.
“The challenges ahead of us are substantial, and will require us to be more unified in our approach and constantly discuss adjustments needed to see us through the financial uncertainty of the coming years,” Dickinson said.
Members will discuss the report and hear from Schulz during their upcoming Board of Regents meeting June 25–26.
“Although the report had a very positive tone, and noted many skills unique to the president, the board will want to address challenges ahead, regarding governance of the evolving system, fine‑tuning how we meet our land grant mission, and a vigilant review of administrative structure, as well as increasing our statewide visibility using the co‑operative extension model,” Blankenship said.
He continued. “The primary message from the board is this: we wish to retain his leadership skills during these extraordinary times and will address his contract later this year when timing and circumstances are appropriate.”
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