Nearly a year after the death of Dr. Elson S. Floyd, Washington State University will have a new, permanent leader. Today, the school announced current Kansas State University president Kirk H. Schulz has accepted the same position with WSU. Schulz will continue to serve as K-State's president through June when he will make the move to Pullman to take over full time.
Schulz's history is engineering and land-grant school heavy so just on the optics, this seems to be a good hire. He has an B.S. and PhD in chemical engineering from Virginia Tech and spent over a decade of his career at high levels with various engineering departments across the country, with stops at the University of North Dakota and Mississippi State University.
After that, Schulz became MSU's vice president for research and economic development, with new grants and contracts topping $150 million in his second fiscal year on the job. Since leaving that job in 2009, he has served as the president of Kansas State University, where he helped bring in more private donations and increased the athletic department's budget by about $15 million. He also currently serves as the chair of the NCAA Board of Governors. Here's his official statement on the job change from this morning:
K-State Faculty, Staff, and Students,
Earlier today, I accepted an offer to serve as the next President of Washington State University.
I will continue to serve as K-State President through mid-May, and will transition to Washington State in mid-June. The Kansas Board of Regents will conduct a search for an Interim President as soon as possible.
Noel and I have thoroughly enjoyed our 7 years at Kansas State — it has been an exciting time to be a Wildcat and a part of the K-State Family. Being part of transforming our multiple campuses has been the highlight of my career in higher education.
I will continue to communicate monthly with the K-State community with Letters to Campus as we finish up the 2016 Spring Semester.
With Purple Pride,
The similarities between the school Schulz ran and the one he's going to run are pretty hard to miss. Both are land-grant schools in a remote location with similar enrollment rates, acceptance numbers and a virtually identical spot on U.S. News and World Report's college rankings. Schulz should be in good shape to inherit a school he basically just spent the last seven years in charge of and hit the ground running.
Needless to say, the shoes Schulz will have to fill once he starts running are huge. Elson S. Floyd left a bigger impression on Washington State University and higher education as a whole than just about any school president I can remember. With a new medical school on the way and a Campaign for WSU completed with over a billion dollars in donations and grants, Schulz can continue a lot of the good work already laid down before him.
Welcome to Washington State University, Kirk H. Schulz. We look forward to working up a cool nickname for you (it won't be from me, I'm not very cool). Our thanks to Dan Bernardo who served as interim president and will now return to his position as university provost.
We reached out to Jon Morse. managing editor of Bring On The Cats for his thoughts on Schulz. Here's what he had to say:
What you can expect from Schulz is a lot of community and student-body engagement -- he is very active on social media and willingly engages students, fans, and townies -- but in terms of the athletic department he's *generally* pretty hands-off.
However, he has been known to get in up to his elbows in regard to things which he thinks make the school "look bad" -- his wife tried to change our traditional EMAW to EPAW because "it's sexist", and he notoriously banned Sandstorm from Bramlage until realizing that the student section would just come up with some other song to express their feelings toward That School Down the River.
He's NOT the most powerful university president in the Big 12... but *right now* he's probably number two, behind only David Boren at Oklahoma. (That's what screwing around and losing control of everything does to you, Texas.) However, because the Big 12's priorities are not the same as the NCAAs, and because he is the chairman of the NCAA Board of Governors, Schulz is quite possibly the most powerful university president in the NCAA. A lot of our folks haven't noticed this yet, but that's a real blow to K-State.
But I don't know if it's actually helpful to Wazzu, because I don't know if he gets to keep that position once he moves.
So, ultimately what you have is a guy who keenly understands the importance of athletics to a campus, but doesn't really want to run his own backyard other than giving the AD his marching orders and then getting out of the way. But in a more global sense, Schulz is *very* hands-on, and has been partially responsible for a lot of the reforms we've seen discussed and/or implemented.