Regents to host faculty listening sessions

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Upcoming listening sessions where faculty will be able to address members of the Washington State University Board of Regents were announced during the group’s meeting today on the Tri-Cities campus.

These listening sessions will provide an opportunity for faculty across the WSU system to come together to express concerns about challenges facing the university, Chair of the WSU Board of Regents Lisa Keohokalole Schauer said.

“The ability for us to be present, to listen, and to connect human-to-human is critical,” Schauer said.

Times and dates, as well as campuses where these meeting will take place were announced during the meeting:

  • March 18 — 12:30–2 p.m. on the WSU Pullman campus
  • March 19 — 3:30–5 p.m. on the WSU Vancouver campus
  • March 25 — 11:30 a.m.–1 p.m. on the WSU Spokane campus
  • March 27 — 10–11:30 a.m. virtually
  • April 10 — 1–2:30 pm on the WSU Tri-Cities campus in the Student Union Building (SUB) 102N

Several regents are expected to attend each session, though a quorum of the board will not be present. They will be joined by members of the Faculty Senate leadership team. More information about these events is available on the Board of Regents website.

Schulz addresses challenges

During his presentation to the board, WSU President Kirk Schulz acknowledged faculty concerns being raised about the university. He stated that the decline in the number of research active faculty in the last decade needs to be reversed and further acknowledged challenges related to employee morale, enrollment, and the university’s reputation.

While encouraging broad participation in pursuit of solutions, Schulz made a point to highlight a presentation from the day prior on faculty research activity. While WSU ranks ninth out of 14 among the university’s peer institutions in total research and development expenditures, the university ranks fifth in R&D expenditures by tenure-track faculty members. 

“We have exceptional people at Washington State University doing amazing work, and if we’re not careful sometimes you can always focus on we’ve got these problems over here and you forget about the people doing wonderful things, the students that are excelling, the faculty we highlighted today that have spent careers at WSU and are doing truly groundbreaking work.”

Schulz also expressed gratitude for the efforts of External Affairs and Government Relations in working with the Washington State Legislature in finding funding, particularly for the university’s new contract with graduate student employees.

“I believe that the increase in stipend levels and that contract represents an investment in our graduate students across the system. It’s going to provide stipend levels that are much more in-line with the cost of living and I think it’s going to help our departments and our campuses recruit outstanding graduate students not just from the region from around the world that want to come to WSU.”

Other news

During Friday’s meeting, regents approved nearly a dozen action items ranging from setting fee rates for the upcoming academic year to approving capital project designs were approved. Among those actions was approving a 3% increase in tuition for Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine students, setting WSU Pullman housing and dining rates for the upcoming academic year, and approving the design of Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s forthcoming Schweitzer Engineering Hall.

A new Master’s degree program in energy conscious construction, to be made available on the Pullman and Global campus, was also approved unanimously by the board. The new program is a collaboration between Voiland’s School of Design and Construction, its School of Mechanical and Materials Engineering, and the university’s Extension Energy Program and fits with the state of Washington’s pledge to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from buildings in keeping with the Climate Commitment Act.

Also during the meeting, WSU Pullman Chancellor, Provost and Executive Vice President Elizabeth Chilton announced that the university has received approval from the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities to operate an educational location in Nairobi, with the next step being authorization to offer a biomedical sciences PhD. More information the university’s degree extension request is expected in the coming weeks.

The complete meeting is available to watch on YouTube. The board is next scheduled to meet April 18–19 in Spokane.

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