Search for new president of WSU yields 8 hopeful finalists

  • By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
  • Saturday, March 5, 2016 9:07pm
  • Local News

EVERETT — Washington State University regents will soon choose a new president and a prominent Snohomish County civic leader has been tapped to help make their arrival go smoothly.

WSU’s Board of Regents has narrowed the list of hopefuls to eight finalists and could make a decision by April.

The board has asked Lura Powell, its vice chairwoman, and Bob Drewel, a former Snohomish County executive and most recently chancellor of WSU Everett, to guide the new president’s transition into running the land-grant research university.

Briefing documents on university operations will be put together to assist in the person’s acclimation to the state and the WSU system, Powell said. And a plan will be developed to “effectively introduce” the person to the WSU community and its stakeholders through visits and meetings, she said.

“Our ultimate goal is to have a very smooth transition,” she said.

WSU lost its charismatic and visionary president, Elson Floyd, to cancer June 20. Provost Dan Bernardo stepped in as interim university president while the Board of Regents launched a nationwide search. He will return to his provost duties as part of the transition, the university announced last week.

In a March 2 update on the search, regent Michael Worthy said the list of finalists includes current university presidents and provosts as well as an individual from the private sector.

“The interview process is ongoing. The identities of these individuals will remain confidential so as not to jeopardize their leadership of their current organizations,” Worthy said in a statement issued at the time.

A decision is expected by April, if not sooner, Powell said.

“The most important thing the regents can do is select a leader for Washington State,” Powell said. “I am very, very excited about the candidates we have.”

During the search process, an advisory committee led by Regent Michael Worthy conducted public forums around the state to gather ideas from students, staff, faculty and community leaders on the traits they’d like to see in the next president.

Two meetings were held in October at Everett Community College where WSU Everett is based.

Participants stressed four areas of importance, said Randy Bolerjack, WSU Everett spokesman.

They want the university to maintain its focus on aerospace and advanced manufacturing programs in the Everett-based operation and strengthen ties with community colleges in Snohomish, Island and Skagit counties, he said.

They also want the next president to be someone who will “speak the Cougar language” and be a “master of relationships” in Olympia to build state support for the entire WSU system, Bolerjack said.

Further details on the search can be found online at

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623;

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