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WSU moves forward on medical school named in Floyd’s honor

Elson S. Floyd was told two weeks before he died that Washington State University’s new medical school would be named in his honor.

Though he often avoided the spotlight, the former university president “felt really good about that,” said Interim President Daniel Bernardo, who was there when Floyd got the news. “This was his crown jewel.”

WSU regents recently announced their intention to call the new school the Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine.

Bernardo, in a meeting with The Spokesman-Review’s editorial board, noted Floyd’s tireless promotion of the medical school in the Legislature in the months before his death June 20, even as he was undergoing treatment for colon cancer.

“What he did while he was fighting that disease, mere mortals can’t do,” Bernardo said.

In that last meeting with Floyd the president told him, “Move forward without me,” Bernardo said.

WSU administrators outlined how they’re doing that on Wednesday.

Dean search: Ken Roberts, acting dean of what’s currently called the College of Medical Sciences, said WSU got about 50 applicants for the job of founding dean. They hope to identify someone by the end of August, he said.

Branch campus strategy: Medical students will be educated at all four of the university’s campuses – Spokane, Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Everett.

Even though two are in Western Washington – where WSU officials argued most of the state’s medical resources are based when pressing the case for funding – they’re outside King County. “It’s not East Side-West Side, it’s the center with everything around it being less,” Roberts said.

And students from the WSU campuses will work in outlying communities in a hub-and-spoke configuration, he said.

Funding: WSU has launched a campaign to raise $100 million in private support for the accreditation, implementation and operation of the new medical school. Bernardo acknowledged that it’s “a lofty goal.”

WSU Spokane Chancellor Lisa Brown said administrators are debating tuition prices for the med school, which expects to admit the first class of 40 students in August 2017. But tuition is likely to be slightly lower than at the University of Washington, she said.

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