Regents advance infrastructure projects

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Members of the Washington State University Board of Regents took action to advance several critical infrastructure projects across the system during their meeting Friday in Vancouver.

Regents voted to move ahead with the design phase of two projects on the WSU Pullman campus — the Taylor Sports Complex and the Schweitzer Engineering Hall.

The Taylor Sports Complex will replace the existing indoor practice facility built in 2002, and has an estimated price tag of $24 million to $27.4 million. WSU has already received more than $20 million in cash contributions toward the project. The design budget approved by Regents Friday is capped at $2.4 million. Construction of the new practice facility is scheduled to begin in the winter of 2024.

Also, up to $4.8 million for the design phase of the planned Schweitzer Engineering Hall was approved by regents. The new facility will showcase the strength of degree programs offered by the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and equip it with the spaces necessary to educate the next generation of WSU students. The project’s budget is expected to be $80 million, with half coming from the state and the rest from donations.

Edmund and Beatriz Schweitzer, and Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories (SEL) contributed $20 million toward the project earlier this year.

The WSU Vancouver Life Sciences Building also had its budget increased by $4.964 million via regent approval. The project will bring together various translational, applied, and clinical health programs into one state-of-the-art facility. Nearly half of the increase is being funded by the Washington State Office of Financial Management to offset increased material costs.

In addition to advancing construction projects, regents also voted to rename the President’s House on the Pullman campus to the Ida Lou Anderson House. Anderson was one of WSU’s first female faculty members and counted among her many students and mentees Edward R. Murrow, one of the university’s most illustrious alumni. The home is now occupied by the chancellor of the WSU Pullman campus, Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton and her family.

Revisions to the student code of conduct were also approved by regents, as was a university ethics policy. That policy serves as an umbrella policy consolidating and linking laws and university policies related to ethics and creates and codifies a mandatory ethics training requirement, among other advancements.

Regents also gave the go‑ahead for university administration to sign a new 3‑year marketing contract for the Cosmic Crisp apple. The prior 4‑year contract cost approximately $10.4 million and coincided with WSU collecting more than $16 million in royalties from sales of the popular fruit.

WSU President Kirk Schulz opened his presentation by asking for a moment of silence for the victims of violence within the University of Idaho and the University of Virginia communities.

Following the moment of silence, Schulz highlighted recent notable highlights from across the system, including the $5 million gift from Boeing, the unveiling of the new Family Medicine Residency Center at Pullman Regional Hospital and the 25th anniversary of the signing of the memorandum of understanding with regional Native American tribes. Regents also heard from WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer as well as several student, faculty and staff groups.

The 2024 Board of Regents meeting schedule was also approved. The board is next scheduled to meet virtually Jan. 26 and 27.

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