The man who has been offered the presidency of Washington State University is a chemical engineer and an Eagle Scout, and the current president of Kansas State University.
“The opportunity to come in as the new president of Washington State and be involved and engaged in helping to build a new publicly-funded medical school is really a tremendously unique opportunity,” Kirk Schulz said in an interview with public radio.
"Land grant (universities) have branched out now into much more comprehensive institutions," Schulz said. "Statewide, from the urban areas to the really rural areas, one of our challenges is how do we make sure we have a quality educational experience across the state of Washington, regardless of people's economic background."
Schulz announced to Kansas State that he'll start at WSU in June. He would succeed interim Washington State University President Daniel Bernardo, who was named to the post after the death of President Elson Floyd in June 2015.
Land grant university fundraising
Like Floyd, Schulz helmed an effort to raise $1 billion for his university. KSU reports it is 83 percent of the way there. Last year Schulz presided over the relocation of Kansas State’s fundraising arm, the KSU Foundation, to an office park, positioning it in symbolic and literal proximity to corporate neighbors that help fund the university.
“Ultimately,” Schulz said in a KSU statement in October, “it will advance us toward our goal of becoming a Top 50 public research university by the year 2025.”
WSU announced it hit its $1 billion goal at the end of the 2015 fiscal year, shortly after Floyd died. The stated goal of that campaign was to “redefine what it means to be a land-grant research university.”
Proud Eagle Scout
Schulz is active in the Boy Scouts of America and was recognized with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award in 2013. Schulz credits scouting with having helped him in his professional roles from his first job to his current one. At a Boy Scouts breakfast in 2014 he reflected on BSA’s decision to admit gay scouts.
“I think scouting is going to need to grow and be inclusive of all young men and women,” Schulz told WIBW-TV in 2014. “I think we made some steps in that direction (in 2013) and we’re going to continue to make sure that we’re relevant no matter what a person’s background is.” Schulz told public radio today that same spirit of inclusiveness is important in higher education.
"I think students tend to change more during the four years or five years we have them on a lot of these residential campuses than at any other time of their life," Schulz said. "It's important for us to make sure that they say, 'you know what? That was the greatest four or five years of my life.'"
Rumors spread through WSU campuses Thursday that a new president would soon be announced. The Spokane Spokesman-Review reported that faculty and students had decried the secrecy of the finalists’ names. The regents defended it as the best way to attract candidates.
WSU released a statement that said its regents unanimously selected Schulz this morning. The chair of the Board of Regents will begin negotiating contract terms, the statement said.
WSU announced Schulz will tour the university’s campuses next week.