Coug Nation waves flags on WSU's first day

Fall semester begins as WSU Vancouver celebrates its 25th anniversary

By Susan Parrish, Columbian education reporter


Updated: August 25, 2014, 8:51 PM

photoWashington State University Vancouver students drive past small planted flags on the first day of classes on Monday.

(/The Columbian)

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If you go

What: WSU Vancouver 25th anniversary celebration

When: 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 6.

Where: WSU Vancouver Quad, 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Ave.

Details: Live music, guided campus tours, Cougar Gold cheese tasting; research lab visits, hands-on activities, more.

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“Coug Nation” was out in full force at Washington State University Vancouver on Monday, the first day of fall semester. Hundreds of volunteers waved crimson flags to welcome students back to school. The flag waving was part of the 25th anniversary celebration of the Vancouver campus.

Some volunteers arrived at 5:30 a.m. to place small Cougar flags in the ground along the entrances.

University mascot Butch T. Cougar waved the biggest flag of all, hoisting it in the air and waving toward the line of vehicles waiting to enter the campus at the bottom of the hill at Northeast Salmon Creek Avenue.

Butch was joined by an exuberant Max Ault, a 2012 graduate from the Vancouver campus. The 24-year-old public affairs major sprang on top of the campus sign, waving a flag and waving vigorously toward the drivers. Ault is now the business development manager for the Columbia River Economic Development Council.

Another Cougar alumnus, Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, stood on the sidewalk near Ault.

“This campus got started my first year of college,” Leavitt said, wearing a WSU T-shirt and waving a crimson flag.

Leavitt had just graduated from Fort Vancouver High School and was pursuing an engineering degree. WSU Vancouver, which was housed at Clark College for its first few years, didn’t offer undergraduate engineering courses in its first days. So Leavitt started at Clark College, and then transferred to WSU in Pullman, where he earned his bachelor’s degree, followed by a master’s degree in environmental engineering.

“How convenient it would have been for this Vancouver boy to attend college at this beautiful campus,” Leavitt said. “The growth of this campus has been phenomenal.”

More than 3,000 students are enrolled at the 351-acre branch campus, which offers 20 undergraduate and 11 graduate majors, including engineering.

“There’s something about being part of the Coug Nation. There’s a lot of pride,” Leavitt said. “It reverberates around our community. You see Coug license plates, T-shirts and hats. I just ordered Coug golf club head covers.”

Jennifer Miltenberger also wore Cougar colors and waved a flag Monday morning.

Miltenberger, the director of development and alumni relations at WSU Vancouver, is part of the team that organized the flag waving event and invited hundreds of alumni to help out. After growing up in Moscow, Idaho, just 8 miles from WSU’s main campus, she is well versed in Cougar pride. As a WSU student at home over summer break, she volunteered at the WSU Vancouver ground-breaking event. After graduating from WSU with a communications degree, she was hired by WSU Vancouver.

“All of my kids are already Cougars,” she said.

Miltenberger enrolled all three of her children in the child development daycare programs on campus. Tyler Crooks, 12; Cameron Crooks, 8 and Scotland Crooks, 7 all attended the preschool program on campus. Her two youngest attended the private kindergarten.

“I bleed crimson,” Miltenberger said. “My license plate says ‘WSU4EVR.’”