Members of the Washington State University Board of Regents approved several significant construction projects across the WSU system during their meeting today in Pullman.
Each of the approved projects was submitted to the State of Washington as a capital budget request and funded as part of the FY 2021-23 state biennium. They include:
- WSU Health Science Spokane, Phase One Building Renovation
A $15 million project that’ll update the existing space to provide more space for academic programming and research. Construction is set to begin this month, with occupancy coming in June 2023.
- WSU Pullman, Johnson Hall demolition
$8 million in state funding will be used to knock down Johnson Hall to make way for a new Plant Bioscience Building in partnership with the USDA Agricultural Research Service. That project has already received $104.9 million in funding from Congress. Demolition will begin in May 2022.
- WSU Pullman, Clark Hall research lab renovation
Research spaces built five decades ago will be updated thanks to nearly $5 million in state funding to better meet modern needs. Construction is expected to begin in January 2022 and wrap up by September of that year.
- WSU Pullman, new campus fire protection and domestic water reservation construction
$8 million in state funding will be used to build a new 2 million gallon water reservoir as well as corresponding site improvements and new piping to link it to the existing water distribution network. Construction will begin in March 2022 and be completed by September.
Back to campus
Regents also approved President Kirk Schulz’s 2021-2022 goals and objectives. During his presentation, Schulz noted the energy and excitement on WSU’s campuses with the return of in‑person activities.
“I think we just missed that vibrancy in all of our learning environments across the system during COVID‑19, so it’s been really cool to see that, and hopefully to feel it, and to me that’s also an important part,” Schulz said.
Friday’s Board of Regents meeting, as well as two of Thursday’s committee meetings, were broadcast live via Youtube. Moving forward, all WSU Board of Regents committee meetings on Thursdays as well as the Friday board meeting will be live streamed.
During Thursday’s Strategic and Operational Excellence Committee meeting, regents received an update on the university’s efforts to combat the spread of COVID‑19.
The total number of COVID‑19 cases within the WSU Pullman community this fall is greatly improved from last fall. From Aug. 30-Sept. 12, 2020, the WSU Pullman community had 526 confirmed COVID‑19 cases. For that same period this year, WSU Pullman had 121 cases.
“As the vaccine has become widely available, what we’ve seen is that this is the lynchpin in being able to return to a full on campus in‑person experience, and so every contact point that we have with a student, with a faculty or staff member necessarily pivots back to a conversation around why vaccination is what enables us to be able to return to that feeling and actual experience of normal,” Joel Schwartzkopf, executive director of Cougar Health Services, said.
The student vaccination rate across the WSU system is around 94% among those who’ve complied with the university’s process. Cougar Health Services continues to offer vaccines to Pullman students as well as diagnostic and travel testing, in addition to their traditional services.
The WSU Board of Regents will hold its next series of meetings on the Tri‑Cities campus Nov. 18-19.