WSU’s new Spokane med school to be named for Elson Floyd

SPOKANE — Washington State University’s new medical school in Spokane will be named for the college’s late president, Elson Floyd, who pushed hard to create the school in the final months of his life, the Board of Regents decided Friday.

Regents approved changing the name from the College of Medical Sciences to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

Floyd died June 20 of complications from colon cancer. Floyd, who started his tenure in 2007, was the 10th president of the Pullman-based university and its first black president. He was credited with working hard to convince lawmakers that the state needed a second public medical school in addition to the University of Washington.

“I was able to communicate our intention to President Floyd before his passing, and he was very grateful and humbled by the naming,” Board Chair Ryan Durkan said.

Dan Bernardo, WSU’s interim president, submitted the naming proposal.

“No one worked more tirelessly to expand medical education in Washington State than Elson Floyd,” Bernardo said.

Regents were also told Friday that Dr. John Tomkowiak of the Chicago Medical School will be the medical school’s inaugural dean. He will start work in October.

“Dr. Tomkowiak brings the perfect combination of experience and expertise to the position of inaugural dean,” Bernardo said. “He was instrumental in establishing and sustaining community-based medical education in Florida, New York and in Illinois.

Tomkowiak is dean of the Chicago Medical School and president of the Rosalind Franklin University Health System.

Over the course of his career, he has been involved in numerous successful accreditations with the Liaison Committee for Medical Education, the primary accrediting body for medical schools in the United States. Washington State University officials are in the process of seeking accreditation for the new medical school.

Tomkowiak was also part of the team that created the new medical school at Florida State University.

He earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois and completed his M.D. at Southern Illinois University. He holds a master’s of organizational leadership from Gonzaga University in Spokane.

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