WSU Regents Approve Trust Lands Settlement, School of Molecular Biosciences

PULLMAN, Wash. — The Washington State University Board of Regents Friday approved a
settlement agreement with the State of Washington over management costs for WSU’s trust
lands, many of which are timberlands.
Revenue from the trust lands, provided by the federal government in 1889 to support
Washington’s land-grant university, is an important source of funds to build and maintain
campus buildings. The first building to benefit from the settlement is the new Health Sciences
Building to be constructed on the Riverpoint campus in Spokane to house WSU and Eastern
Washington University programs.
Under the settlement, $20 million will be placed in WSU’s agricultural permanent fund this
year, with another $16 million put into the fund by June 30, 2005. These funds replace
management fees taken from trust lands proceeds since 1964 in violation of the federal law
granting the lands to the state.
“This is a good solution to a contentious issue,” said Regent Richard Albrecht, Seattle.
In other action, the regents approved establishing a new School of Molecular Biosciences
within the College of Sciences. Three departments — biochemistry and biophysics, microbiology,
and genetics and cell biology – were merged to create the school.
WSU Provost and Academic Vice President Gretchen Bataille said the reorganization “is
based on universal principles of biology rather than narrow academic disciplines, and on a desire
to improve teaching and research in this field.”
The regents also approved the renovation of WSU’s historic White Hall to house the WSU
Honors College and serve as a residence for up to 128 honors students. The total project cost is
estimated at $15.2 million. Funding comes from WSU Housing and Dining Fund revenue bonds
and from the 1999–2001 capital budget. Construction is expected to begin in January.
During committee reports, Regent Peter Goldmark of Okanogan noted that the regents have
begun discussing their new authority for setting WSU tuition, effective with the signing of the
state operating budget for the next two years.
“This is the biggest issue we face, making the right decisions for WSU, students and faculty
alike,” he said.
The Legislature gave regents tuition-setting authority within the limit of a 4.6 percent tuition
increase for 1999-2000 and 3.6 percent for the following year.
The board elected officers for the new year starting May 15, approving the slate of Peter
Goldmark as president and Kenneth Alhadeff, Seattle, as vice president. Carmen Otero, Issaquah,
served as president this past year.
The meeting also marked the return of President Sam Smith, who has been recuperating from
prostate cancer surgery in March. He expressed deep appreciation for all the cards, letters and
plants he received from people wishing him well in his recovery.