WSU Vancouver chancellor Hal Dengerink resigns

Leader built Salmon Creek campus



Hal Dengerink, the only chancellor the Washington State University Vancouver branch campus has known since its inception in 1989, has resigned from the position, WSU President Elson S. Floyd announced late Tuesday.

The resignation is effective Aug. 15.

In a campuswide email, Floyd said Dengerink’s leadership “has been visionary and his judgment impeccable,” and called WSUV a lasting tribute to Dengerink’s efforts.

Floyd said he will assemble a search committee to seek a successor.

Meanwhile, the interim chancellor position will continue to be filled by Lynn Valenter. She has held the interim position for the past 16 months, effectively running WSUV while Dengerink has periodically taken medical leave.

Dengerink, 68, has repeatedly declined to publicly discuss his health.

“It has been a pleasure to have served my entire academic career at Washington State University. Not many people get a chance to build an institution from the ground up, which has literally been the case at Washington State University Vancouver,” Dengerink said in the WSU news release. He could not be reached Tuesday night.

The news comes two weeks after Dengerink was named Clark County’s First Citizen for 2011.

He was hailed for his role in establishing WSUV nearly from scratch, arriving in October 1989 when the new branch campus operated out of Bauer Hall on the main Clark College campus in Vancouver, beginning three years earlier.

Dengerink helped scout several locations before a 351-acre parcel on a Salmon Creek hillside was chosen as the school’s permanent home.

He also was praised for his ability to build partnerships, including close collaboration with Clark College to expand opportunities for the region’s students.

“He’s certainly left his mark on higher education in Southwest Washington. He took it to another level,” said Clark President Bob Knight on Tuesday evening.

Knight teamed with Dengerink after he took a Clark vice president post in 2004. “I’m going to miss his leadership. I’ve always looked up to Hal, looked up to his counsel and advice to me,” he said.

Knight said Valenter will make a “very capable” campus leader until a permanent choice is made. “She’s been a pleasure to work with,” he said.

Bottom line

Dengerink’s departure provides savings to the cash-strapped WSU system.

His 2010 compensation of $221,525 was highest among all public employees in Clark County, The Columbian reported earlier this month.

That barely edged the $221,444 earned last year by Larry Paulson, Port of Vancouver executive director, who also has announced his resignation, effective April 2012.

Valenter was paid $157,028 in 2010, before full impact of her interim title and salary adjustment took effect.

The two-year state budget approved by Olympia legislators sliced WSU’s state allocation by $108 million, or 26 percent from the current maintenance level. That puts the cumulative, four-year drop in appropriations at 52 percent, or $231 million.

The Legislature has agreed to jack up tuition rates to make up the widening funding gap. WSU regents last week approved a 16 percent increase in tuition rates for 2011-12.

Four consecutive tuition hikes have raised the tuition rate for students by a cumulative 67 percent since 2007.