WSU Vancouver continues to thrive

School boats new STEM building, record number of graduates in 2012

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter

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Washington State University Vancouver continues to thrive on its Salmon Creek hillside campus.

Mel Netzhammer was appointed chancellor in July 2012 to lead the university as it expands its programming and looks to the future. He replaced founding chancellor Hal Dengerink, who retired in June 2011 and passed away three months later.

The research university employs more than 140 full-time, Ph.D. faculty.

With STEM — science, technology, engineering and math -- on the forefront of education trends, WSU Vancouver’s new Engineering and Computer Science building received the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold designation for its use of durable composite and recyclable materials and natural light. The $43.5 million, four-story, 56,000-square-foot building opened in spring 2012 and is home to the school’s electrical and mechanical engineering programs.

A record 979 students graduated at the school’s May 2012 commencement ceremony.

Enrollment at WSU Vancouver is nearly 3,000 students. They pursue any of 19 bachelor’s degrees, nine master’s degrees or two doctorate degrees in more than 37 fields.

The school’s newest additions are an undergraduate degree program in neuroscience and a doctor of nursing practice. Bachelor degree programs run the spectrum from anthropology, English and psychology to business administration, computer science, mechanical engineering and nursing.

Master’s and doctorate degree programs in teaching and education serve local school teachers and administrators.

The school’s innovative bachelor’s program in creative media and digital culture continues to break new ground as students create compelling digital storytelling. The program’s Fort Vancouver mobile app made its public debut in June 2012 in conjunction with Brigade Encampment at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

WSUV has operated in Salmon Creek since 1996, after its inception at Clark College in 1989.

It’s one of three branch campuses in the Pullman-based WSU system; Spokane and the Tri-Cities are the other two.

All stand to gain considerably from a $1 billion fundraising campaign begun in 2010 by WSU leaders.

With a 2015 target date, the capital drive would pump $180 million into student scholarships and fellowships and $120 million more into general student support. Almost $250 million would help attract and retain faculty members, and the rest would pay for research initiatives, academic and outreach efforts and facility renovation and construction.