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Division of Health Sciences created to realign programs

SPOKANE – Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins announced today, July 21, that the university is creating a new Division of Health Sciences. The change will realign various academic programs to encourage multidisciplinary work among faculty members working in health-related areas, especially those on the Pullman and Spokane campuses.

The new division builds on WSU’s record of accomplishment in health sciences. Faculty work in the life sciences made up 65 percent of WSU research expenditures in the 2005 fiscal year – totaling $120 million. Today, the leading agency funding WSU research is the National Institutes of Health.

“Health science research and education are becoming increasingly important, both to the Spokane area and to WSU statewide. This realignment will help us build on our strengths and continue our momentum,” Rawlins said.

Rawlins appointed WSU Spokane Chancellor Brian Pitcher to the additional role of vice provost for health sciences, overseeing efforts statewide.

“Brian has an excellent overview of our biomedical research and education programs and is ideally suited to head this new division,” said Provost and Executive Vice President Robert Bates. “As we move forward in health sciences research, this new division will encourage the collaboration between faculty members in different disciplines that is vital in these emerging areas.”

Bates said further details of the realignment will be announced as it progresses.

WSU Spokane has become a focal point of health programs at the university. A new College of Nursing facility is being built on the WSU Riverpoint campus; WSU College of Pharmacy students take their final two years of study in Spokane; and other programs in the health professions and health sciences, such as the graduate program in health policy and administration, also offer degrees here. The campus is the home of the Sleep and Performance Research Lab and a growing list of health science researchers in chromosome biology, methamphetamine and substance abuse, mental health and other areas.

During the past five years, WSU research expenditures overall grew at 8 percent annually, while WSU Spokane research expenditures grew at 17 percent, with much of Spokane’s growth in the health sciences.

 “This is a great opportunity for our community, our campus, and our university,” Pitcher said. “Health sciences research and education are an important focus at WSU and I believe this realignment is an important step in building on our successes. This plan prepares us to partner more effectively with hospitals, clinics, physicians and other research partners, particularly as we announce our plans to expand medical and dental education at the Riverpoint campus.”

Pitcher was named chancellor of WSU Spokane in November 2004, and also served as interim dean of the College of Pharmacy for several months before the arrival of current Dean James Kehrer.

Pitcher had previously served for seven years as provost of the University of Idaho. Before coming to the Moscow campus, Pitcher worked for 19 years at Utah State University as a faculty member and administrator. Pitcher was the dean of the College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences at Utah State University from 1992 to 1997.

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