Rawlins to retire June 2007; three goals for final year

PULLMAN – Washington State University President V. Lane Rawlins, who has led his institution’s drive for educational and research excellence for more than six years, announced today, July 28, that he will retire from the post effective June 2007.

The ninth president of WSU, Rawlins assumed the presidency in June 2000. He informed the university’s Board of Regents this week of his decision to retire.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity extended by the Board of Regents to have these years as president,” Rawlins said. “It has been my good fortune to work with splendid faculty, staff, students, alumni and many supporters who are ensuring WSU’s stature as a top-tier research university and one of America’s leading land-grant universities.”

WSU Regents Board Chair Kenneth Alhadeff expressed regret over Rawlins’ decision.

“Lane has provided the highest caliber leadership during his presidency,” Alhadeff said. “We had hoped that he would agree to stay longer, but we understand his desire to turn to other interests at this stage of his life.”

Alhadeff said the regents are “very supportive of President Rawlins’s plan for the coming year and have the greatest confidence in his ability to continue to lead the university on the path he has established. He has set high goals for this year and we look forward to continuing to work with him in achieving them.”

Rawlins listed three goals for the final year of his presidency, all related to the strategic plan he led the university community in developing soon after his arrival. Those goals are continued improvement in undergraduate and graduate education, further expansion of WSU’s world-class research and scholarship and the enhancement of WSU’s role statewide.

He said he will be working closely with the University of Washington to achieve a strong budget package for the research universities during the upcoming legislative session, will focus on private fundraising efforts, and will continue to emphasize WSU’s statewide presence through continued personal interactions.

Rawlins has led a university growing in enrollment, research funding and facilities, as well as in national and international reputation.

Universitywide enrollment moved from 20,623 in the fall of 2000 to 22,615 in fall 2005. That growth was reflected on all four of the university’s campuses in Pullman, Spokane, Tri-Cities and Vancouver.

WSU also has attracted more high-ability students. Among new freshmen at the Pullman campus in fall 2005, the group high school grade point average was 3.45, up from 3.35 in fall 2000; 38.6 percent had GPAs of 3.6 or higher, up from 33.9 percent five years earlier; and 15.9 percent combined a 3.6 or higher GPA with an SAT score of 1200 or more compared to 10.7 percent with those accomplishments in the fall 2000 class.

During Rawlins’ presidency, WSU has continued to raise its research profile. In fiscal year 2000, WSU had nearly $105 million in funded research. By fiscal year 2005, that figure was more than $182 million. The university was recently designated as a top-tier research university by the Carnegie Foundation, one of 96 such public or private institutions nationwide.

Major WSU research buildings brought on-line during his tenure include the Shock Physics Building and the Plant Biosciences Building in Pullman, which is the first in a planned biosciences complex of seven buildings. Also opened were the Health Sciences Building in Spokane and the Engineering/Life Sciences Building at WSU Vancouver. The university recently broke ground for a Bioproducts, Sciences, and Engineering Laboratory on the Tri-Cities campus.

Under Rawlins, WSU has strengthened its statewide presence. The roles of the campuses in Vancouver, Tri-Cities and Spokane were redefined, giving their leaders more autonomy to meet local and regional needs. In the past two years, the Washington Legislature has granted the campuses at WSU Vancouver and WSU Tri-Cities the authority to admit freshmen – Vancouver this fall and Tri-Cities in the fall of 2007. WSU Spokane has become a cornerstone of research growth in its community, especially in the health sciences.

He also has built a strong alliance with WSU’s fellow research university – the University of Washington – in making the case to the Legislature and to the general public about the importance of public investment in research universities as economic engines for the state.

Rawlins is a member of the state’s Technology Alliance and is on the Board of Directors of the Governor’s Competitiveness Council. Nationally, Rawlins is currently chair of the presidents’ council of the Pac-10 Conference and Pac-10 representative on the NCAA Board of Directors.

“I came back to lead Washington State University to new levels of excellence and I am enormously pleased by our progress. But there is a time and season for everything,” Rawlins said. “I have unfinished business here that I believe I can complete this year. And then, I think it is time to try something else for a while. Whatever it is, it will not be far from WSU and the people that I cherish here.”

Rawlins informed the regents that he plans to serve one year in a half-time faculty position upon retiring as president.

Chairman Alhadeff indicated that the regents will mount a national search for Rawlins’ successor. Details of that process are expected to be announced around the start of the new academic year in August.

An Idaho native, Rawlins earned his bachelor’s degree in economics from Brigham Young University and his doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley. He joined WSU in 1968 as a faculty member in economics, publishing widely in major journals and co-authoring books on labor economics and public policy. He later became department chair and WSU vice provost. He then served as vice chancellor of the University of Alabama system and for nine years as president of the University of Memphis before returning to WSU in 2000.

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