Prof makes marked impact on community

From his research, to his teaching, to his public service, Kenneth L. Casavant is a man dedicated to the mission of Washington State University.

Chosen to present the 2004 Distinguished Faculty Address, and recipient of the 2004 Sahlin Faculty Excellence Award for Public Service, Casavant is a professor in the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, as well as one of the leading transportation economists in the United States.

“Ken has a long professional dedication to bettering the future of Washington State,” said Andrew K. Johnson, executive policy adviser for the Office of the Governor.

During his 32 years at WSU, Casavant has served the community as:
• president of the Pullman Chamber of Commerce
• board member of the Pullman-Moscow Airport Facilities Planning Committee
• designer of the first Pullman transit system
• member of the Pullman City Council

• one of two Washington representatives appointed to the Northwest Power and Conservation Council
• member of Governor’s Natural Resource Cabinet
• interim vice provost of research
• interim vice provost of Academic Affairs
• president’s faculty athletic representative.
“As a WSU alumnus and faculty member, Ken has been an outstanding representative of WSU quality through service to governments at all levels,” said Scott Matulich, an agricultural economics professor at WSU.

An example of Casavant’s continuous commitment to service at WSU occurred prior to the WSU-USC game on Oct. 5, 2002. Once informed that Eric McLaughlin, a terminally ill man and WSU alumnus, would be attending the game, Casavant immediately facilitated sideline passes, a signed football, and arranged for McLaughlin and his family to meet star player Jason Gesser in the locker room after the game. Casavant also took his personal 2002 Sun Bowl plaque from his office and gave it to McLaughlin to be signed by Gesser.

Through his transportation research and associated activities, Casavant has brought WSU to the attention of local, state, national and international parties, said J.C. Lenzi, regional administrator for the Washington State Department of Transportation. Regarded as a transportation expert, Casavant uses cutting-edge techniques to address the transportation challenges facing the 21st century, Lenzi said.

Having received a $1,335,000 four-year grant from the Washington State Department of Transportation, Casavant’s newest endeavor will include researching freight mobility, congestion and transportation policy within the state.

Casavant brings his reputation for excellence and dedicated work ethic into the classroom, as well. Under his guidance, the introductory agricultural economics course has grown from 18 attendees to nearly 200 each semester. He also has received teaching awards at every level, including the 1990 WSU Faculty of the Year.

“What is most phenomenal is that he carries out all of these responsibilities well and with a sense of humor,” said nominator Gretchen M. Bataille, former WSU provost and senior vice president for academic affairs at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Casavant graduated from North Dakota State University with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in agricultural economics in 1965 and 1967 respectively. He earned his Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1971 in agricultural economics, with a field interest in transportation policy and marketing.

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