Off Beat: Many ways to measure Dengerink’s days among the Cougars

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Hal Dengerink’s role as founding chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver has been well documented over the past few months.

That span has been marked by his selection as Clark County’s First Citizen, Dengerink’s retirement in August, his death on Sept. 14, and then the Oct. 1 memorial service at WSUV’s Harold A. Dengerink Administration building, where friends and family were able to reflect on his life.

But Dengerink’s 22 years in Vancouver, as head of a campus that started in Bauer Hall at Clark College, wasn’t the extent of his WSU career. Those 22 years actually represented just a bit more than half of his time at Washington State.

In one of his last interviews with The Columbian, Dengerink mentioned an interesting footnote of his 42-year WSU career.

Dengerink pointed out that he worked with 40 percent of the presidents in WSU history. Since its founding in 1890, the Pullman university has had 10 presidents. Dengerink served under four of them: Glenn Terrell (1967-1985); Sam Smith (1985-2000); V. Lane Rawlins (2000-2007) and current president Elson Floyd.

And the very first two presidents (1891-1893) didn’t really count; they were forced out of office after logging a couple of years between them in what the WSU website refers to as “a shaky beginning” for the school. (Washington State University history)

Washington State Agricultural College and School of Science didn’t open to students until 1892. So Dengerink served under four of the eight presidents who actually provided some leadership.

Another point of view

By another measure, Dengerink was part of Washington State University for all but 10 of the years it’s had that name.

According to the WSU website, the institution was known as the State College of Washington from 1905 until 1959. That’s when it became Washington State University.

— Tom Vogt

Off Beat lets members of The Columbian news team step back from our newspaper beats to write the story behind the story, fill in the story or just tell a story.