Metropolitan King County Council to Honor WSU President Emeritus

The Metropolitan King County Council will recognize
Washington State University President Sam Smith for his
15 years of outstanding contributions to the Pacific
Northwest on Monday, June 26 at 1:30 p.m. The
recognition will occur at the beginning of the regular council
meeting in the 10th floor chambers of the King County
Courthouse, 516 Third Ave., Seattle.

“Sam Smith is one of the key reasons our state has become
a center for higher education in the Northwest,” said
Council Chair Pete von Reichbauer. “The quality of our
local college graduates is essential to our strong economy,
and a key component to our worldwide leadership in
industries such as high-tech, aviation, and natural-resource

Smith has a 35-year career in education. He has enjoyed a
distinguished career, first on the faculty of the University of
California at Berkeley, then at Pennsylvania State
University. He served 15 years – from July 1, 1985 to June
8, 2000 – as only the eighth president in WSU’s 110-year

WSU, with its main campus in Pullman and urban
campuses in Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Spokane,
enrolls 21,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It
offers more than 150 major fields of study taught by 2,000
faculty, including many with national and international
reputations. A leading research institution, WSU also offers
a nationally ranked Honors College and nationwide
distance learning degrees. As the state’s land-grant
university, WSU has Cooperative Extension offices in all
39 counties. The university is a member of the Pac-10
Athletic Conference.

While Smith was president of WSU, the university grew in
size and stature. Its teaching, research, and public service
activities received worldwide recognition. Smith’s
presidential priorities included strengthening undergraduate
and graduate education, placing an international imprint on
programs, and increasing opportunities for women and

He is well known for establishing WSU branch campuses,
distance-learning centers and the award-winning Extended
Degree Program. More than one-third of all WSU
graduates – since the university’s first commencement in
1897 – have had their academic degrees granted by Smith.
His achievements include raising more than $275 million
during the university’s first comprehensive fundraising

“Sam’s contributions to both the WSU community and the
region are endless,” said von Reichbauer, “and the
university is very influential here in King County, as well.
There are approximately 21,000 WSU alums living in King
County. During this past school year, there were 3,082
students enrolled at WSU from King County.”

The council chair noted that Smith is also recognized as a
national leader in education. He has served as a member of
the Board of Trustees of the Western Governors University
and on the Kellogg Commission on the Future of the State
and Land-Grant Universities. He currently chairs the
National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant
Colleges Board of Directors. Also, Smith was chair of the
Executive Committee of the National Collegiate Athletic

Before his association with WSU, Smith served 16 years at
Penn State, initially as a faculty member, then department
head, and finally, dean of the College of Agriculture and
director of both the Cooperative Extension Service and
Agricultural Experiment Station.

A native of California, Smith holds bachelors and doctoral
degrees in plant pathology from the University of California
at Berkeley and honorary doctoral degrees from Nihon
University in Tokyo, Japan, and Far Eastern State
University in Vladivostok, Russia.

As the president emeritus, Smith will work out of the WSU
West offices in Seattle.