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OneWSU and the path ahead highlighted during 2021 State of the University

WSU President Kirk Schulz and WSU Provost Elizabeth Chilton sitting in chairs next to a fireplace.
WSU President Kirk Schulz and WSU Provost Elizabeth Chilton delivered the 2021 State of the University event from the Lewis Alumni Centre.

WSU’s top two leaders shared their insights into the ongoing development of the OneWSU system plan during the 2021 State of the University event Tuesday.

President Kirk Schulz and Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton emphasized that plans have not been finalized and that they are still eager to hear from members of the WSU community as they release more information about the plan.

“This is a multi-year process,” Schulz said. “I think it’s really important that we spend the time to have the conversations that we need to, and that we stay on a deliberate pace.”

Chilton noted that WSU’s campuses and extension centers are already united, and that it’s a matter of improving upon a solid foundation.

“It’s about how do we balance serving those local constituencies, our communities, our students and our faculty and staff, while at the same time making good on the strength of being part of one system,” Chilton said. “We really seek to augment and maintain the things that are working well and then try to improve both transparency and clarity in roles and responsibilities for those things that are not working particularly well.”

The plan is being developed now out of a desire to address concerns that have been raised by the WSU community and follows years of work to lay out a course for the future with Drive to 25 and the 2020-2025 Strategic Plan.

A video of the entire online State of the University event can be watched on Youtube.

President Schulz began the annual event by presenting several highlights from the past year. Among these were the fast turnaround to remote learning and work due to COVID-19, as well as efforts to bring internet access and technology to communities in need. More than 150 research projects related to COVID-19 have been undertaken at WSU, several of which were funded by multimillion dollar grants. WSU students have also lent their assistance with testing and vaccination programs across the state.

On the topic of diversity, equity and inclusion, Schulz noted the formation of the President’s Commission on Campus Climate and Culture that will carry on the work of the Five Working Groups on Campus Culture and Climate. These working groups published their final report and recommendations last year. Chilton is working with Lisa Guerrero, associate vice provost for inclusive excellence, to conduct cluster hirings that’ll bring enhanced diversity to the faculty while increasing the amount of research and scholarship in rich fields of study.

In closing, Schulz said he was optimistic about WSU’s ability to emerge from the pandemic on strong financial footing, thanks in large part to efforts to right the fiscal ship prior to COVID-19.

“I remain tremendously excited about our potential, and I think we’ve learned some things about how to work together effectively through COVID-19,” he said.

The State of the University event is part of Showcase 2021, a weeklong celebration of academic excellence. For information on upcoming Showcase events, visit its website.

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