Interim vice president of external affairs and government relations announced

The Cougar Pride statue at the WSU Pullman campus.

Washington State University’s Senior Director of State Relations Chris Mulick is set to become the new interim vice president of external affairs and government relations. He will be taking over for Colleen Kerr, who has accepted a position outside of WSU.

Mulick’s one-year term leading WSU’s government relations team begins March 15. He will be working collaboratively with the Assistant Vice President of Federal Engagement and Advocacy Glynda Becker Fenter.

“Chris’s tenure leading our legislative efforts in Olympia has yielded significant state assistance for WSU’s infrastructure and programs supporting WSU’s students, vital research, and the communities we serve. We are grateful he has agreed to take on these additional responsibilities,” WSU President Kirk Schulz said.

WSU’s Office of External Affairs and Government Relations is responsible for supporting the university’s state and federal priorities through strategic communications with legislators, stakeholders, and the general public. From opinion pieces in prominent publications to coordination with lawmakers and other important stakeholders to ensure important initiatives receive appropriate funding, its efforts are considered an essential part of helping keep WSU on course to fulfill its land grant mission.

Mulick came to WSU in 2010 after covering the Washington State Legislature as both a newspaper reporter and a senior communications specialist in the state Senate. Since his hiring, Mulick has worked with the external affairs and government relations team to share WSU’s successes with state lawmakers while advocating for university projects and initiatives. He earned his bachelor’s degree in communications from WSU in 1997. 

Kerr, who led WSU’s external affairs and government relations efforts since August 2010, is taking a job at Microsoft as the company’s senior director of government relations for the state of Washington. She will be retaining her affiliate faculty position with WSU’s Paul G. Allen School for Global Health.

“Colleen has been vital to WSU’s success in her time with the university,” Schulz said. “Her strategic leadership, engagement efforts, and advocacy on behalf of the university led to tremendous support at the regional, state and federal level, and we wish her all the very best in this next phase of her career.”

During her tenure, Kerr not only built a team that fostered strong ties with state and federal legislators and leaders, but fostered opportunities for her team to ensure WSU’s students, faculty and staff are heard at the local, state, and national level. Through engagement with coalitions, associations, and government entities, this strategic advocacy led to monumental support for university programs and initiatives from federal and state partners and WSU stakeholders. Kerr also led the campaign to launch the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, the FAA Center of Excellence for Alternative Jet Fuels and Environment, and worked with both federal and state relations in ensuring funding for demolition of Johnson Hall and construction of the new ARS building on WSU Pullman’s campus.

The external affairs and government relations team at WSU is working towards several goals during this year’s state legislative session. Topping that list in the state legislature includes obtaining additional state support to enhance employee compensation in the years to come, as well as funding to pay for salary and equipment improvements in the College of Nursing as part of its reaccreditation effort. 

In the 118th Congress, the Office of Federal Relations will focus on reauthorization of the Farm Bill, implementation and funding of the recently passed CHIPS and Science Bill, and ensuring federal funding supporting our students and research enterprises across the system is maintained.

More information on WSU’s legislative efforts is available on the government relations website.

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