Saturday, December 4, 2021
Dec. 4, 2021

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At forums, image emerges of ideal WSU president

By , Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter

Mike Worthy has a characteristic in mind as Washington State University seeks its next president.

The WSU regent from Vancouver said he is looking for a visionary. After all, that’s how former president Elson Floyd approached the job, Worthy said Monday.

Floyd died of cancer on June 20. The search to replace him includes a series of community forums across the state; it started with three sessions Monday at WSU Vancouver. The goal is to identify the new president by the end of spring semester in 2016.

Worthy said that Floyd “was able to see into WSU’s future. He could articulate where WSU was heading, and we believed we could get there.”

Worthy’s input is significant because he is chairman of the presidential search advisory committee. But committee members are looking for more — a lot more — input before they start accepting applications.


  •  Previously: Washington State University’s Board of Regents initiated the search process to replace late President Elson Floyd.
  •  What’s new: A series of statewide community forums started Monday at WSU Vancouver.
  •  What’s next: By early November, the advisory committee hopes to publish a profile of desired characteristics for prospective candidates.

That’s why students, faculty and staff, and community members all had opportunities Monday to discuss what they’d like to see in the new president.

In the evening forum that drew six community members, Tracey Powell said she’s looking for someone who can think outside the box. Maybe a rookie — someone who hasn’t held the position before, said Powell, a 2002 graduate of WSU Vancouver and mother of a recent Pullman grad. That would break the “cookie-cutter” pattern, she said.

“Not being a president doesn’t disqualify a candidate,” committee member Duane Brelsford told her.

Bob Buker, a Hazel Dell resident who had a long career as a research agronomist, said he wants a WSU president who can promote scientific progress. That also means communicating the importance of genetic engineering in food production, he said. When he was born, there were 2 billion people on Earth. Now, Buker said, “we set the table for 7” billion.

Amelia Veneziano, a grad student at WSUV, wondered whether a woman would have a shot at the job, because women make up the bigger share of most campus demographics.

Even though the selection process is a long way off, “I was thinking about people in the higher-ed universe,” Worthy said. “Looking at successful university presidents, many are women with all the skills we’re looking for.”

In sessions earlier Monday, Worthy said, the primary thing faculty and staff members were looking for is a president who understands the differences between the branches and the flagship campus in Pullman. The demographics are different, and the faculties operate differently, Worthy said.

It calls for someone who “can manage multiple sites under the same banner,” Worthy said.

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter