Diane Coughlin honored in naming of new welcome center

Jim and Diane Coughlin pose for a photo with Butch T. Cougar.
Named after Jim's late wife (left), the Diane Coughlin Welcome Center will host tutoring, career services, information, and wayfinding for Voiland College’s students, faculty, staff, and visitors inside Schweitzer Engineering Hall.

Washington State University will name the welcome center at the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture’s Schweitzer Engineering Hall — coming 2026 to the WSU Pullman campus — the Diane Coughlin Welcome Center.

With a $2.5 million commitment to the project, Jim (’79 Civ. Engr.) and Diane, his spouse of nearly 40 years, helped to kick off fundraising to build Schweitzer Engineering Hall. The new building represents the first step in revamping the engineering and design district at WSU Pullman. The state-of-the-art facility will house innovative and flexible classrooms; student collaboration and club activity zones; first-year student engagement studios and senior capstone project design spaces; and centers for academic advising, tutoring, and career counseling.

“Approximately two and a half years ago, Jim and Diane became the first donors for an ambitious project to revitalize facilities at the Voiland College,” said Mary Rezac, former dean of the college. “They always believed in and supported our students. And against all reason, they made a trailblazing statement, believing we could raise $80 million in two years to pave the way for project success.”

Had a similar student success center existed when Jim was a WSU student of civil engineering in the 1970s?

“It would have been a game-changer,” said Jim, who serves on the Voiland College Executive Leadership Board and the WSU Foundation Board of Directors. “The new building will allow — for the first time in WSU’s history — students and faculty of all the varied disciplines within Voiland College to interface. This interaction didn’t happen until students entered the working world, and probably not until they’d gained a number of years of experience.”

“I believe it will provide students a greater chance for success both as students and in their subsequent careers,” he said. “They will be able to seek out help and have a greater understanding of career opportunities, all in one place.”

When Diane passed away in June 2023, the Coughlins’ gift was reimagined to honor her memory in the new building. The “heart of the building” in Jim’s words, the Diane Coughlin Welcome Center will be near offices for tutoring and career services and will act as a source of information and wayfinding for the college’s approximately 4,600 students as well as faculty, staff, and visitors.

The welcome center is a fitting memorial for Diane, who for 20 years worked the front desk at Coughlin Porter Lundeen Inc., which Jim helped to found in 1994 and built as a regional leader in the structural design of buildings. Known affectionately by colleagues as ‘The Concierge,’ Diane was renowned for enthusiastically greeting visitors, mentoring college interns, onboarding new hires, organizing events, and relentlessly radiating positivity.

“The Diane Coughlin Welcome Center will mark the first stop for prospective and current students alike at Voiland College’s new Schweitzer Engineering Hall and will be a fitting tribute to Diane,” said Kirk Schulz, WSU president. “The warm and instructive greeting they will receive there will guide them on their journey to discovery, engagement, and collaboration within this centerpiece of our state-of-the-art engineering and design district. My profound thanks to Jim and Diane for their generosity and foresight.”

…If we can come anywhere close to capturing the spirit, joy, love, support, and expectations of excellence that Diane manifested in everything she accomplished, the welcome center will be a success and will be transformative for generations of students to come.

Mary Rezac, former dean
Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture
Washington State University

“The entire WSU community misses Diane. The world lost her all too suddenly last year,” said Rezac. “While Diane won’t be with us to see the Schweitzer Engineering Hall project completed, we are determined to capture her effervescent presence as we design the new building’s Diane Coughlin Welcome Center. If we can come anywhere close to capturing the spirit, joy, love, support, and expectations of excellence that Diane manifested in everything she accomplished, the welcome center will be a success and will be transformative for generations of students to come.”

For more information about WSU’s Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture and its plans to revamp the engineering and design district on the Pullman campus, visit vcea.wsu.edu/give/building-success-campaign.

Next Story

WSU energy initiatives partner to provide sustainable solutions

The new Institute for Northwest Energy Futures, led by inaugural Director Noel Schulz, is partnering with WSU Extension to come up with ways to better supply energy to the people and enterprises of the state.

Recent News

WSU online MBA programs recognized by CEO Magazine

CEO Magazine has ranked the Carson College of Business online MBA and executive MBA programs as No. 38 out of 78 and No. 22 out of 57 in its 2024 rankings of global recognition.

Grant supports helping the power grid prepare for the future

The $2.4 million federal grant supports a WSU-led team in preparing the power grid for the changing world of electricity production, including greater renewable generation.