President Smith Announces Plans to Retire in July 2000

WENATCHEE, Wash. — Washington State University President Samuel Smith, well known
for expanding WSU into a statewide multi-campus institution during the past 14 years,
announced Friday his intentions to retire on July 1, 2000.
Smith met with the Board of Regents here following their regularly scheduled June meeting
to inform them of his intentions.
“Working with the university community and WSU’s many supporters, I have achieved the
major goals I set for myself in coming to the presidency in 1985,” Smith said. “Most importantly,
we have transformed WSU from a university with a single rural campus to a statewide institution
with four campuses, eight learning centers and a distance education program serving students in
every county of the state.”
Smith said he believes strongly that presidents should “leave on an uptick” and that is what
he is doing.
“We just finished a very successful Legislative session that provided critically needed
dollars for faculty salaries and construction funding for major facilities both on the Pullman
campus and on the branch campuses,” Smith said. “Our private and federal support continue to
be strong as well.”
He noted that the 10-year accreditation visit in April went very well. “And, thanks to our
faculty, WSU has met the criteria to be ranked as a Research I university.” The Carnegie
Foundation for Teaching categorizes universities based numbers and types of degrees awarded
and on levels of research funding.
The president said he believes this is the right time for a presidential transition as WSU goes
into a new century with new challenges. “We will be leaving WSU in good shape academically
and financially.”
On a personal note, Smith said, “I am just hitting 60, I’m healthy, and Pat and I decided this is
right time as well for us to do the many things that we have wanted to do.”
Peter Goldmark, president of the WSU Board of Regents, said he accepted President Smith’s
announcement with deep regret coupled with understanding.
“The presidency of a major university as large and complex as WSU is an incredibly
demanding, non-stop job, and many university presidents are in office just five to seven years,”
Goldmark said. “WSU has been blessed with chief executives like President Smith with the skill
and stamina to see their vision for growth and improvement brought to fruition during
presidencies of a decade or longer.”
Goldmark noted that Smith not only led the transformation of WSU into a statewide
university, he also led the highly successful Campaign WSU. The university’s first
comprehensive campaign raised more than $275 million for scholarships, fellowships,
distinguished professorships and new equipment for teaching and research.
“President Smith is also known as an advocate for access to higher education, not just as
WSU but at all our public colleges and universities,” Goldmark said. In the fall of 1998, WSU’s
statewide enrollment reached a record 21,000 students. More than one-third of all WSU
graduates have had their academic degrees granted by Dr. Smith.
Smith has also made major contributions to national higher education organizations.
Currently chair-elect of National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, he
will become chair in November 1999. He is a member of the Kellogg Commission on the Future of
the State and Land-Grant Universities, and of the Board of Trustees of the Western Governors
In January, he completed his term as chair of the Executive Committee of the National
Collegiate Athletic Association, one of a series of leadership positions he held during a major
reorganization of NCAA governance.
He presented the Justin Smith Morrill Memorial lecture at the 1998 NASULGC annual
meeting, an honor given for significant contributions as an educator in promoting the land-grant
tradition of the “liberal and practical education of all people.”
Among his other honors are honorary doctoral degrees from Nihon University in Tokyo,
Japan, and Far Eastern State University in Vladivostok, Russia.