Building projects get green light from Board of Regents

Washington State University logo.

Members of the Washington State University Board of Regents advanced several building projects as part of the governing body’s Friday meeting in Vancouver.

Among those projects is the Champions Center on the WSU Pullman campus, which is envisioned as a future hub for student athletes to receive academic, mental health and professional development services. The project’s approved budget of $9.4 million is being entirely funded by donations, with construction slated to begin this winter.

Regents also approved the schematic design for the USDA Agricultural Research Services Plant Biosciences Research Building on the Pullman campus. The project represents the next evolution in the longstanding relationship between WSU and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with the estimated total construction cost of $105 million being covered by federal funding.

Representatives of federal agencies joined WSU leaders in breaking ground on the USDA-ARS Plant Sciences Building in August. Construction on the new facility — located on the former site of the now-demolished Johnson Hall — is expected to conclude in February of 2026.

Meanwhile, with the university needing additional office and laboratory space to support the establishment of the Institute for Northwest Energy Futures, regents gave President Kirk Schulz the go-ahead to acquire a nearly 17,000 square foot facility located near the WSU Tri-Cities campus. WSU will spend up to $5.4 million to procure the space over the course of a four-year lease-to-own plan.

Additionally, the university received $7.7 million in the 2023–25 State Operating Budget to form the Institute for Northwest Energy Futures. The goal is to leverage university expertise alongside research partners and public and private donors to make tremendous advances amid an every evolving energy landscape. In August, the center appointed its inaugural director, Noel Schulz, who serves as the Edmund O. Schweitzer III Chair in Power Apparatus and Systems in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.

Regents also approved amendments to the WSU Voluntary Investment Program, modified its 2024 meeting schedule, and approved the year six accreditation report from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities.

As part of his presentation to the board, Schulz talked about this semester’s campus town halls, recent events for prospective students, alumni and corporate partners in California, and celebrations happening across the system as part of Native American Heritage Month, among other topics. Regents also heard a report from WSU Vancouver Chancellor Mel Netzhammer on the state of the campus’ enrollment and employee engagement.

Friday’s entire Board of Regents meeting is available to watch online. Members of the WSU Board of Regents are next scheduled to meet in Seattle Jan. 25–26. More information is available on the WSU Board of Regents website.

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