Q&A with President Schulz
Q: You’re beginning your second academic year as WSU’s president. What was the most important thing you learned about the University during your first year?
Kirk Schulz: I knew that the Cougar community was extremely passionate about the University even before I took the job. But I probably underestimated the depth of Cougar pride. It’s been eye opening—and inspiring—to experience this unwavering support for WSU from our alumni and friends. And it’s not just athletics. It shows up in nearly every aspect of life across our state. It’s an incredible asset as we look to the future.
Q: What are your dreams for WSU?
Kirk Schulz: One of my biggest dreams is to elevate the stature of the University to the place it deserves. The talented women and men at Washington State—as well as our alumni—are doing great things to transform lives and better our society. When people talk about the top public research universities in our country, our faculty, staff, and students absolutely should be included in that conversation. I consider building our reputation one of my top personal priorities.
Q: That sounds like an ambitious dream. How do you plan to turn it into reality?
Kirk Schulz: Last year we launched the Drive to 25, an institution-wide initiative to elevate WSU to recognized status as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities—preeminent in research and discovery, teaching, and engagement—by 2030. We’re focused on two major goals: accelerating the development of our research portfolio, and enriching the WSU student experience, making it truly transformative. Last year we involved the entire WSU statewide enterprise in identifying our strengths and establishing metrics to measure our progress in the initiative.
Q: Why is the Drive to 25 so important?
Kirk Schulz: State funding for public higher education across our country has dropped precipitously over the last 10 to 20 years. So public universities have had to be creative in finding other revenue streams to fulfill their missions. Achieving top 25 status nationally will bring about a number of outcomes that ensure a vibrant future for the University: growth in our enrollment, expanded external research funding opportunities, and the creation of new partnerships with private and public organizations, locally, nationally, and globally.
Q: How does the Drive to 25 support students and their ambitions?
Kirk Schulz: There’s kind of a domino effect. As we succeed in this initiative, we’ll boost WSU’s reputation, which will attract additional financial resources. Garnering additional funds will enable us to provide the resources faculty need to excel in scholarship and teaching, which will enhance the educational experience of our students. As the educational experience is enhanced, it will help us achieve our student recruitment objectives. As our research portfolio grows and enhances our reputation further, it will in turn attract more research investment. Equally important, success in the Drive to 25 means our alumni benefit too—a WSU degree will be worth more in the marketplace.
Q: What is the role of the Carson College of Business in advancing the Drive to 25?
Kirk Schulz: The Carson College has a critical role to play. The college already is well on its way to becoming the first choice for students seeking a business education from a Pacific Northwest university. The college has earned numerous accolades in recent years that recognize the quality of its programs. Business and policy communities of the Northwest are increasingly recognizing the college as the leading source of research-based insights and critical thinking about business. We have enthusiastic, loyal alumni helping chart the college’s future course.
To succeed in the Drive to 25, we need to continue enhancing and refining our current efforts. We must persist in our efforts to deliver innovative academic programming and career preparation that ensure career and life success for our graduates. And we must invite and embrace the wisdom and insights of our alumni and friends, who know better than anyone about the essential knowledge and traits needed to succeed in business in the twenty-first century.
Q: What else does the University do to help students achieve their dreams?
Kirk Schulz: One of the really compelling things we do at Washington State is to give students access to higher education—a gift whose benefits last a lifetime. I love the role of land-grant universities, the idea that a lot of land-grants are easy to get into and hard to get out of. We give students a shot; they have to work really hard, and we support them along the way with a variety of resources. Part of that support means we must hire top-notch faculty and staff, provide modern facilities and technical capabilities, and prepare our students to appreciate and embrace the diversity and interconnectedness of the world as they prepare to become our future leaders.
Q: What’s the most important thing WSU alumni, donors, and friends can do to boost the dreams of our students?
Kirk Schulz: There are a couple of things that come to mind immediately. One, consider giving of your time, talent, or treasure to the University. I know it sounds cliché, but it will make a tremendous difference. We enroll a lot of incredible students, talented, motivated students—many of them first-generation college students—who are going to change the world in medicine, in business, in architecture. The list goes on. Once you get to know these students, you’ll want to boost them toward their dreams. Second, tell your friends, family, and colleagues about the fantastic experiences and opportunities WSU provides and the benefits we deliver to the state. As I said earlier, not enough of the country knows what a powerhouse our University is.