State of the University focuses on land-grant mission

Kirk Schulz and Daryll DeWald sitting in chairs and answering questions from the audience.
WSU President Kirk Schulz and Executive Vice President and Chancellor of WSU Spokane Daryll DeWald entertain questions following the 2023 State of the University address.

Emphasizing a commitment to Washington State University’s land-grant mission, President Kirk Schulz delivered this year’s State of the University address on the Spokane campus Tuesday afternoon.

That mission of providing students access to a quality education while facilitating research and services that create impact from local to international levels manifests in many ways across the WSU system, Schulz said.

“Every morning I get up and I think about some of the great things that we’re all doing together and that’s what keeps me going as president and makes me want to come back the next day,” Schulz said. “If we get a $5 million gift for something, I want the next one to be 10 (million). If we get something great from the legislature, I want to go back with an even better proposal the next year, and I think that’s the kind of thing that we’re going to continue to do as Washington’s land grant university.”

He pointed specifically to WSU’s work with tribes and native nations across the state, whose ancestral lands are now home to the university’s physical campuses, as exemplifying WSU’s commitment to the land-grant mission.

Schulz highlighted the recent 25th anniversary of WSU’s memorandum of understanding with area tribes and native nations that, among other things, established the university’s Native American Advisory Board. WSU is expecting to celebrate a new addition to the MOU next month, Schulz noted.

“We want to make sure that we’re committing ourselves to expansion of what we’re doing with our tribal communities, not just simply staying where we are and checking a box and saying we’re doing that.”

He also highlighted the university’s new executive policy requiring researchers and other university officials to coordinate, consult and collaborate with tribal governments when working on projects affecting these groups.

A second example of WSU’s land grant commitment noted by Schulz during State of the University was healthcare access.

Earlier in the day, WSU announced its landmark pediatric residency program in Spokane, the first of its kind in Eastern Washington. The Spokane campus is also nearly finished with the renovation of the soon-to-be renamed Medicine Building, which will give students more space to collaborate and learn techniques necessary to care for patients in the modern world.

Beyond its work in Washington, WSU is also invested in promoting public health abroad, particularly in Africa. WSU Global Health-Kenya is a non-governmental organization promoting public health and health quality while working to find innovative solution to global challenges. The university is also bolstering ties with the University of Nairobi and is looking to establish WSU’s first dual doctoral degree for University of Nairobi students.

Extension also plays a prominent role in WSU’s land grant mission, and serves as a way for the university to benefit communities across the state. Schulz highlighted several initiatives and programs, including Master Gardner – which is celebrating 50 years of supporting communities this year – and work in Ferry County to improve high-speed internet access as examples of success.

Schulz also took some time toward the end of his presentation to discuss WSU’s efforts to collect and utilize data to help inform decision-making, recent philanthropic achievements, and Hostile Terrain 94, an art exhibit created by the Undocumented Migration Project that was recently featured at the Jordon Schnitzer Museum of Art on the Pullman campus.

Schulz was joined on stage by Executive Vice President and Chancellor of WSU Spokane Daryll DeWald for a Q&A session following the president’s remarks. Each touched on several newsworthy items related to WSU, including the pediatric residency announcement and WSU’s partnership with Snohomish County to build a new sustainable aviation fuels research center in Everett.

This year’s State of the University address and Q&A is available to watch in-full via the Experience WSU website.

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