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Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd succumbs to cancer

PULLMAN, Wash. – The chair of the Washington State University Board of Regents today shared the news of WSU President Elson S. Floyd’s death earlier this morning.

WSU President Elson S. Floyd

“On behalf of the Washington State University Board of Regents and the entire WSU community, it is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of President Elson S. Floyd, Ph.D.,” said WSU Regents Chair Ryan Durkan in an e-mail to WSU faculty and staff. “He died in Pullman surrounded by family.”

Durkan said that even while leading “WSU to unparalleled growth and success,” Dr. Floyd had been engaged in an ongoing battle with cancer.

“Though his prognosis and outlook remained positive, recently the illness took a more serious turn,” Durkan wrote. “Higher education has lost a giant, and the world has lost one of its kindest human beings.”

Writing that Dr. Floyd’s “brilliance and determination at WSU can best be understood by looking at his work,” Durkan cited the successful completion of a $1 billion capital campaign by WSU, the bipartisan support created this year for a new WSU medical school, and the university’s highest enrollment in 125 years as among his most recent accomplishments.

“His tenure was unprecedented,” Durkan wrote of the man who became WSU’s 10th president in 2007, “and his legacy will serve the people of Washington, the nation and the world for generations to come.”

She indicated that WSU Provost and Executive Vice President Daniel J. Bernardo – originally asked by the WSU Regents to assume the president’s day-today duties at the time Dr. Floyd was placed on family medical leave – will continue to serve in that capacity at the Regents’ request.

“We have every confidence in his ability to lead our university through this transition,” Durkan said.

Durkan indicated there will also be further announcements from the university detailing plans related to memorial services and other opportunities to pay tribute to Dr. Floyd.

“He loved WSU and the entire Coug Nation, and they loved him,” she wrote. “Details on how and where we gather to pay tribute to our leader, colleague and friend will be forthcoming.”

Note: WSU expects to release a full obituary, providing relevant details of Dr. Floyd’s life and careers later this morning.

Contact: Kathy Barnard, University Communications, 509-335-8055,

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