Regents bestow honors on Floyd, approve construction

RICHLAND, Wash. – As the Washington State University Board of Regents today voted to extend an offer to Dr. Kirk Schulz of Kansas State University to serve as WSU’s 11th president, they also honored the legacy of former WSU President, Dr. Elson S. Floyd, awarding him an honorary doctoral degree and lending his name to the latest construction project on the university’s main Pullman campus.

Acting on a recommendation from Interim WSU President Daniel J. Bernardo, the Regents voted unanimously to honor Floyd, who died last summer following a long battle with cancer, with an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy degree in recognition of his many contributions to the university and its students. The nomination was endorsed by the WSU Faculty Senate, the Associated Students of Washington State University, the Graduate and Professional Student Association, and the Administrative Professionals Advisory Committee.

“Elson earned all three of his degrees from the University of North Carolina,” Bernardo told the regents. “It’s only appropriate that he receive at least one degree from us.”

In a related action, the Regents also voted unanimously to name a new cultural building under construction near the main entrance to the WSU Pullman campus as the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, in recognition of the former president’s legacy of commitment to students, diversity and social justice.

“Washington State University’s diverse student enrollment is one of the fastest growing in the Northwest in large part to Dr. Floyd’s commitment and vision,” Bernardo wrote in support of the board’s action.  “He was an innovative and influential leader and was a nationally respected voice for affordable, accessible higher education. Dr. Floyd committed his entire career to expanding opportunities for all.”

Regent Lura Powell said the new structure would house a “comprehensive, holistic cultural center.”

“I appreciate the building and the message it sends,” Powell said. “There’s a lot of excitement around this. I’m very appreciative of those of you who went out of your way to get student feedback and input on the design. It’s been a very robust process.”

The 16,000-square-foot structure will be located prominently at one of the main entryways to the WSU Pullman campus. The project includes four distinct Knowledge Houses with shared, flexible spaces and hospitality features for special events, as well as collaborative office space for WSU’s diversity leadership.

The Board of Regents approved the design and construction for the project within the budgeted amount of $16,000,000 at an earlier meeting.

In other business, the regents:

  • Approved a schematic design for a student union building on the campus of WSU Tri-Cities.
  • Approved design and construction of the Museum of Art expansion project on the WSU Pullman campus with a total budget of $15 million. Approximately $12.8 million of the project funding is derived from donations.
  • Approved revisions to the Standards of Conduct for Students intended to align with best practices, expand the composition of the university academic integrity hearing board to allow students to serve on that board, and further clarify the jurisdiction of the standards of conduct for students.


Robert Strenge, WSU News, 509-592-7356,