Dean’s message March 2022

Feeling good this morning, I rode my bike to work for the first time this spring (electric bike, before you get too excited). I had that experience of conversing with myself about all the reasons it would be easier to drive –biked anyway – and was rewarded with a beaver sighting in the South Fork of the Palouse River.

I had the true pleasure of attending my first in-person WSU Showcase last week. The Friday night banquet is titled “Celebrating Excellence” and serves to recognize faculty systemwide who earned promotion or tenure this year and faculty and staff recipients of WSU’s highest awards. It was truly a delightful evening, and I went home feeling inspired. Part of the inspiration was watching our college’s up-and-coming associate professors like Dr. Claire Burbick and Dr. Eric Lofgren who were recognized for all their hard work. They are our future. Part of the inspiration was watching Dr. Bill Davis, Dr. Kanako Hayashi and Dr. Gary Wayman be recognized for reaching full professor, what is largely the penultimate honor in academia. And part of the inspiration was the particulars that night of seeing tremendous women leaders who were honored by top WSU awards.

I met for the first time Dr. Nancy Magnuson, emeritus faculty in the School of Molecular Biosciences. She earned the Legacy of Excellence award. She is a true Coug; an inspired mentor; a great immunologist who is known for reaching out, lifting up students and junior faculty; leading women faculty; and taking seriously public service.

I had the honor of walking with Dr. Pat Hunt to the stage as she earned the title Regents Professor. Dr. Hunt is an extraordinary researcher who tackles fascinating scientific questions in reproductive biology and ecotoxicology. She exemplifies professional growth as she navigates science communication and applying her work to real-world problems. So happy to bask in her presence. There was also a special moment when I got to meet Dr. Fran McSweeney, Regents Professor and emeritus faculty, in person. She is not from our college but, with all of her excellence, she could be. Another woman scientist and leader, she shared her delight that her former student Dr. John Roll earned the Sahlin Eminent Faculty Award. These women rock. They exemplify the best of the circle of academic life. Know that I went home Friday night, sat down with my husband and some friends who were in town, and babbled on and on about our college’s faculty and inspiring women leaders. Go Cougs.