David Warner is in critical condition, spokeswoman Pattie Servine said Thursday.
Investigators are checking leads and still asking possible witnesses to come forward, said Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins.
Warner was walking with an acquaintance who exchanged words with a group of college-age people.
"It looks like an altercation between the person with him and suspects and it appears he was stepping in between when something happened," Jenkins said.
The acquaintance was not hurt but hasn't been much help to police.
"We don't know what the words were. Either he can't or won't tell. He indicated he doesn't remember what transpired," Jenkins said. "He had been drinking."
Warner, 41, is Native American and teaches in the WSU Department of Critical Culture, Gender, and Race Studies. There's no indication race was a factor in the beating, Jenkins said.
Police have released video, hoping the public will be able to identify three men and a woman involved in the incident. It happened about 2 a.m. outside Adams Mall, a building with a market and bar in the Greek Row fraternity-sorority area near campus.
Pullman police used grant money to install security cameras in the area because of a high number of assaults. The cameras just went live in February, Jenkins said.
A vigil for Warner is scheduled for 5 p.m. Saturday at Glenn Terrell Friendship Mall at WSU. Supporters also are raising money toward Warner's medical expenses, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported.
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