Washington State University President Kirk Schulz spent much of his State of the University address Tuesday outlining steps that were being taken to help WSU emerge as the best possible place to learn, work and conduct research.
In addressing some of the positive signs the university is already seeing, Schulz also spoke to the adversity Cougs have faced due to the pandemic.
“I tend to be an optimist at heart, and always look forward to the future and think the future is going to be better than the past, but I want to acknowledge that the last two years have been really, really challenging for the WSU community.”
While remote work and classes weren’t ideal and at times made the WSU experience feel less vibrant, Schulz thanks Cougs for their tenacity during difficult times. The ability to return students to physical campuses this fall was a particular point of pride for Schulz, who delivered the State of the University from the WSU Tri-Cities campus. It’s the first time in Schulz’s tenure he’s made the annual speech away from the Pullman campus.
The entire State of the University address is available to watch online. WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Sandra Haynes introduced Schulz, who after his opening remarks participated in a question-and-answer session moderated by Douglas Call, Faculty Senate chair, and Anna McLeod, Administrative Professional Advisory Council chair.
McLeod kicked off the Q&A by asking Schulz about WSU’s efforts to obtain additional state dollars to provide pay increases to faculty and staff. Schulz announced that WSU had succeeded in getting the state to put up a larger portion of funds usable for raises and will continue to push for a more favorable split in the years to come.
By April 15, WSU will announce its plans for mass salary increases for all faculty and staff, Schulz announced. He also noted that classified staff across the system would be getting a 3.25% raise, either by July 1 or a date that complies with bargaining agreements.
Schulz also noted ongoing efforts to address staff fatigue, hire and retain faculty of color and process grant awards more quickly in response to questions posed by the WSU community ahead of the event.
Among the university’s recent successes have been fundraising efforts. So far this year, WSU has raised around $100 million, which puts it on pace to set a record for philanthropic activity in the first year of a fundraising campaign. He cited a $2.2 million gift to WSU’s College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences to launch its rural health initiative as one of several encouraging recent gifts.
“These are the kinds of opportunities and gifts that we’re going to continue to see coming in, and I can tell you we’ve got several major gift announcements to make in the next four to six weeks that will be truly transformational types of things for different academic units across our campuses.”