Bates to step down as WSU provost July 1

Provost and Executive Vice President Robert Bates, who has served as academic leader for WSU for six years, has announced he will step down from his position on July 1.

Bates, who earned a master’s degree at WSU before launching a distinguished academic career, returned to the university in January 2002 after serving for 30 years as a faculty member and administrator at Virginia Tech.

“When Dr. (Elson S.) Floyd took over as president last May, I wanted to stay in the provost’s role for a period of time to help with the transition. This week, he and I agreed that it was the right time to announce my plans far enough in advance so that the university could move forward with a search for a new provost,” Bates said.

“Dr. Bates has been of immeasurable help to me. He is a strong leader in academic affairs and on budget issues. The university has greatly advanced because of his efforts and all Cougs owe him a debt of gratitude. I am especially appreciative that he has been with me during the first year of my presidency,” Floyd said.

Floyd said that Bates would return to the faculty in July and also serve as a consultant to the president on academic issues. Floyd said that the university would soon launch a national search for Bates’ successor.

In his current role, Bates, 63, is the chief academic officer for the entire university and also is executive vice president for the Pullman campus. In 2005, President V. Lane Rawlins enhanced Bates’ day-to-day leadership role on the Pullman campus to allow the president to take on more statewide responsibilities.

As provost, Bates has been a leader in implementing the university’s strategic plan. During his tenure, the university has enhanced undergraduate education, seen a steady growth in research funding, increased enrollment of high-ability students and developed a more diverse student body. Almost all of the current WSU deans were hired under Bates’ leadership. New units have been established, including the Office of Undergraduate Education, the Center for Integrated Biotechnology, the Office of Equity and Diversity and the Office of Global Studies.

Bates has led the first phases of the 10-year institutional re-accreditation and launched the work on the revision of the strategic plan for the next five years. Both efforts are now well underway.

During his tenure as academic leader, WSU was recognized as one of 96 public and private research universities with very high research activity, placing WSU in the top tier of America’s research universities.

 “It was hard for me to leave Virginia Tech after so many years there, but I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to contribute to an institution that I love and value. I’m proud of my achievements at WSU. I’ve enjoyed working with a great group of people and I believe the university is poised for more success as we move forward,” Bates said.

“Speaking for myself and for the previous leadership of the Faculty Senate, I would say we have greatly enjoyed working with Provost Bates. I think he has always cultivated an atmosphere of trust and respect. He has listened to us and we have listened to him,” said Kenneth Struckmeyer, chair of the WSU Faculty Senate.

At Virginia Tech, Bates served as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Virginia Tech’s largest college, and professor of microbiology. Before becoming dean, Bates was associate dean for research, facilities and graduate studies. He joined the Virginia Tech faculty in 1972 as an assistant professor and was promoted to full professor in 1985.

He has conducted research on molecular biology of parvoviruses and received numerous research grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and American Cancer Society. In addition to teaching courses in microbiology and virology, he has published 47 referred book chapters and journal articles, as well as 15 technical reports on virus topics.