About WSU


How history was made
Thompson Hall

In the beginning

Since its founding in 1890, WSU has forged a rich history from stories of remarkable people-scholars and leaders whose contributions transformed lives nationwide.

After a shaky beginning-2 presidents were forced from office in less than 2 years-Enoch Bryan became the University's third president in 1893 and served for 23 years. During his tenure, Washington Agricultural College and School of Science, as it was then called, became the State College of Washington, and the University's journey to become one of the top research universities in the country was begun.

1892 Washington State Agricultural College and School of Science opens to students
1905 Name changes to State College of Washington
1959 Name changes to Washington State University
George Lilley

George Lilley

May 1891-Dec. 1892

Academic field: Mathematics, master's degree, Washington and Jefferson College
Major challenges: Launching a new college with little support from the Regents, who limited his appointment to one year
Life after WSU: Served as principal of Park School, a public school in Portland, Oregon, then became a professor of mathematics at the University of Oregon in Eugene

Important milestones during the Lilley administration
1892 Washington Agricultural College and School of Science opens its doors on Jan. 13 to 13 collegiate and 46 preparatory students
Construction starts on Ferry Hall, the first residence hall, in February
College Hall construction contract awarded May 15
John Heston

John Heston

Dec. 1892-Aug. 1893

Academic field: Education, master's degree, Penn State
Major challenges: Scorned by students, who pelted him with rotten cabbages when he arrived, then unsupported by a newly appointed Board of Regents, which replaced him after 8 1/2 months on the job
Life after WSU: Became president of Dakota State University

Important milestones during the Heston administration
1892 Agricultural College, Experiment Station and School of Science of the State of Washington opens
1893 Stock market crash: "Panic of 1893"
Enoch Bryan

Enoch Bryan


Academic field: Classics, master's degree, Harvard University
Major challenges: Expanding the academic breadth of the college beyond agriculture and science, an effort that culminated in renaming the school the State College of Washington in 1905
Life after WSU: Becomes Idaho's Commissioner of Education for several years and then returns to the State College of Washington as a research professor
Namesake: Bryan Hall and Tower

Important milestones during the Bryan administration
1894 First varsity football game, WSC 10, Idaho 0
1895 First issue of The Daily Evergreen is published
Thompson Hall is completed and serves as the administration building
1897 First graduating class of seven earns diplomas
1899 Enrollment: 481
1902 First master's degree conferred
1905 School is renamed State College of Washington
1906 Enrollment: 1,371
1909 Iconic Bryan Hall is dedicated
1913 President's house is completed for $25,000
First homecoming celebration is held
Ernest O. Holland

Ernest O. Holland


Academic field: English, Ph.D., Columbia University Teacher's College
Major challenges: Conflict in the legislature regarding duplication of courses at WSC and UW. Although President Holland and President Suzzallo of UW were great friends before moving to Washington, they gradually became bitter rivals
Life after WSU: Stays in Pullman, dies five years after retirement
Namesake: Holland Library

Important milestones during the Holland administration
1916 WSC defeats Brown University in the first annual Rose Bowl
1917 Enrollment 2,130; institution reorganizes into 5 colleges and 4 schools; Act of February 2, 1917, distinguishes major curriculum lines at WSC and UW
1919 Cougar adopted as the school's official mascot
1925 Enrollment 3,129
1927 Phi Beta Kappa chapter established, first for a separate land-grant institution; enrollment 3,275
1929 First Ph.D. conferred, in bacteriology
1930 Edward R. Murrow graduates
1931 WSC loses to Alabama in the Rose Bowl
1929-41 Great Depression
1936 More than 2,500 students march to demand "abolition of Ultra-conservative, dictatorial Administrative policies"
1940 Enrollment 5,109
1942 Government contract has the college training soldiers in aviation, Japanese, signal corps, radio, and gunnery
1943 Enrollment 1,530; Cougar football suspended for duration of WWII
1944 Cougar Gold cheese introduced
Wilson A. Compton

Wilson A. Compton


Academic field: Economics, Ph.D., Princeton
Major challenges: Providing classrooms and housing for GIs and families; facing opposition from Regent McAllister, who spearheads Compton's ouster
Life after WSU: Director, International Information Administration in D.C., then heads Council for Financial Aid to Education in New York City
Namesake: Compton Union Building

Important milestones during the Compton administration
1945 Enrollment: 2,708
1946 Surge in military veterans enrolling as students
Admission requirements imposed to limit enrollment
Enrollment: 5,907
1948 Enrollment: 7,890
1950 Construction of Holland Library begins
1951 In the face of state budget cuts, the Regents order Compton to dismiss 182 employees (including the vice president); Compton resigns
The new Student Union is dedicated to Compton
C. Clement French

C. Clement French


Academic field: Chemistry, Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Major challenges: Healing campus wounds after Compton firing
Life after WSU: Serves on various higher education committees and commissions, active in Episcopal Church
Namesake: French Administration Building

Important milestones during the French administration
1959 WSC becomes Washington State University
1960 Honors Program is established
1961 The WSU nuclear research program completes its first chain reaction; the first peace march takes place on campus
1962 Compulsory ROTC enrollment changes to voluntary; WSU joins the Athletic Association of Western Universities, precursor of today's Pac-12
1964 The first "skyscraper dorms," Orton Hall and Rogers Hall, are built to accommodate the Baby Boom generation
Glenn Terrell

Glenn Terrell


Academic field: Psychology, Ph.D., University of Iowa
Major challenges: Student unrest and social upheaval
Life after WSU: Active with The Pacific Institute, an international organization working to transfer knowledge from the cognitive sciences to educational settings, organizations, and the public and private sector.
Namesakes: Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall, Terrell Library

Important milestones during the Terrell administration
1968 French Administration Building dedicated
Marmes Man excavated near Washtucna by WSU geologists Richard Daugherty and Roald Fryxell
1969 What is today the WSU College of Nursing accepts its first class of 37 students
Enrollment: 13,128; campus rife with Vietnam protests and student unrest
1970 South grandstands of Rogers Field destroyed by arson
1971 50,000th student graduates
1972 WAMI (Washington, Alaska, Montana, Idaho) medical education program starts at WSU
1973 Performing Arts Coliseum opens with 1973 graduation
1976 WSU and USDA researcher Orville Vogel receives National Medal of Honor from President Gerald Ford
1978 Butch VI, last live mascot, dies at age 15
1979 WSU Foundation created
1980 Mount St. Helens erupts
1981 Enrollment: 19,303
1983 100,000th student graduates
1984 WSU athletes win three gold medals and a silver medal in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Samuel H. Smith

Samuel H. Smith


Academic field: Plant pathology, Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley
Major challenge: Creating a statewide University system
Life after WSU: Establishes an office at WSU West in Seattle. Serves on the Higher Education Coordinating Board, and is director of the Washington Education Foundation, which provides scholarships to low-income, high-potential students
Namesake: Smith Center for Undergraduate Education

Important milestones during the Smith administration
1985 Washington Higher Education Telecommunications System (WHETS) starts transmitting live, interactive courses from the Pullman campus
1986 WSU biochemist Clarence A. "Bud" Ryan becomes the first WSU faculty member elected to the National Academy of Sciences
1989 Lewis Alumni Centre opens
Branch campuses established in Spokane, Tri-Cities, and Vancouver
1990 Bobo Brayton wins 1,000th game as baseball head coach
Edward R. Murrow School of Communication dedicated
1992 Distance Degree Program established to offer courses online
1993 Plans for new Cougar Plaza in downtown Pullman approved
1994 New library adjacent to Holland Library completed
1996 WSU Vancouver's Salmon Creek campus is dedicated
Lighty Student Services Building opens
WSU's Thomas Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service opens
WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital opens, one of the best-equipped veterinary hospitals in the country
1998 Picked to finish seventh in the Pac-10, the 1997 co-conference champion WSU Cougars play Michigan in the Rose Bowl
State legislature gives WSU management responsibilities for the Riverpoint campus in Spokane
2000 Enrollment: 22,015
V. Lane Rawlins

V. Lane Rawlins


Academic field: Economics, Ph.D., U.C. Berkeley
Major challenge: Creates a strategic vision for the university
Life after WSU: Interim Director of the William D. Ruckelshaus Center, a joint enterprise of UW and WSU; economics professor at WSU; President, University of North Texas

Important milestones during the Rawlins administration
2000 WSU unveils its new logo, a crimson and gray cougar head first created in 1936 by WSU student Randall Johnson, presented within an academic shield
2001 New Student Recreation Center opens
2002 Samuel H. Smith Center for Undergraduate Education opens
2003 WSU Cougars play Oklahoma in the Rose Bowl
WSU Regents give WSU urban campuses expanded responsibilities
Institute for Shock Physics moves into new building
2004 New Communication Addition (CADD) opens to strengthen programs in the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication
The Inaugural Showcase event celebrates faculty and staff research and scholarly achievement
2005 Opening ceremonies herald the new Plant Biosciences Building and the new Education Addition
Elson S. Floyd

Elson S. Floyd


Academic field: Higher and Adult Education, Ph.D., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Major challenges: Maintaining academic quality in the face of the largest cuts in state allocations in WSU's history

Important milestones during the Floyd administration
2008 Scientific American names WSU reproductive biologist Patricia A. Hunt one of the top 50 researchers in the world for her work on bisphenol A (BPA), a component of plastic food and beverage containers
A research center on the conversion of biomass into bioproducts and biofuels opens at WSU Tri-Cities
The Murrow School of Communication becomes the Murrow College of Communication
The newly-renovated Compton Union Building opens for the fall semester, following two years of construction that disrupted the heart of campus
2009 The state legislature reduces its budget allocation for WSU by $54.2 million, the largest reduction in WSU's history
2010 Discovery of a chemical "sleep switch" in the brain by Regents Professor James Krueger and colleagues is named one of the top 100 stories of the year by Discover magazine
2011 Budget cuts triggered by The Great Recession lead to a 52 percent reduction in the state's allocation to WSU over the preceding 4 years
With a $40 million grant, WSU leads the Northwest Advanced Renewables Alliance, developing wood-based jet fuel and petrochemical substitutes
Washington apple and pear growers invest $27 million over eight years to support WSU tree fruit research and extension services
2012 The Paul G. Allen Center for Global Animal Health opens, enabled by two of the largest private funding commitments in WSU history
WSU launches the Global Campus to deliver educational, research, and training programs worldwide
WSU offers a bachelor's degree in mechanical engineering at the University Center of North Puget Sound, located on the Everett Community College campus in Everett, Washington.
2013 The Federal Aviation Administration chooses WSU and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to co-lead a new research center that explores alternative jet fuels
2014 WSU adds three more high-demand bachelor's degrees-electrical engineering, hospitality business management, and integrated communication-to students at the University Center of North Puget Sound, bringing the total number of WSU degrees offered in Everett to four.
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