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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Leaders react to death of WSU President Elson Floyd

As news of WSU President Elson Floyd’s death spread Saturday morning, official statements began flooding in lauding Floyd as a visionary leader and a great man. Here are some of the statements.

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, Democrat: “All Washingtonians should say a prayer of thanks and gratitude for the leadership of Elson Floyd. His skill and perseverance led change at WSU that will last forever. Whether leading the way on new science investments like the biofuels, or fighting to improve access to medical education, President Elson was focused, driven and successful.”

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat: “As anyone who has ever had the privilege of meeting him knows well, Elson was truly one of a kind. He led WSU with incredible energy, passion, and a deep and personal commitment to our students and communities. He was a giant in his field and someone whose thoughts on higher education and research were greatly valued by me and so many others. Elson made a great university even greater, and though he will be missed terribly, his vision for the continued growth of a world class research university will live on.”

Spokane Mayor David Condon: “Spokane and the Inland Northwest have lost a great leader and advocate for students and learning. For nearly a decade, Dr. Elson Floyd advocated for greater access to higher educational opportunities in Spokane and was a significant part of the advancement of medical education in our University District.

“Dr. Floyd went about his work with integrity and a smile that made him a major influence in making the partnership of higher education among our region’s great institutions a centerpiece of the east end of downtown Spokane. He led the designation of Spokane as a health care campus that created new opportunities for students interested in pharmacy, nursing and medical education. 

“I like so many others who had the great pleasure of getting to know him are far better for that chance.

“Cancer took Dr. Floyd far too soon, but it did not beat him. His legacy lives on in the future medical professionals, engineers, business leaders, scientists and so many other graduates who walk out of Washington State University with the world ahead of them.”

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane: “As president of Washington State University, he was beloved by students, faculty and staff.  I am grateful for his transformative vision and his impact on thousands of students. His superlative leadership ignited WSU – with higher enrollment, more grants, a successful capital campaign, and by reaching out to successfully recruit a more diverse student body. He had the gift of making our dreams seem possible and turning our aspirations into reality.”

Eastern Washington University President Mary Cullinan: “Dr. Floyd was a brilliant leader and a strong proponent of public higher education. He was committed to significant partnership as we worked together to ensure the growth and quality of programs on the WSU Spokane and EWU Spokane campus in downtown Spokane. 

“Early in his career, Dr. Floyd served as EWU’s Vice President for Student Services and Executive Vice President. Even then, his colleagues knew he was a shining star who would work tirelessly to support student learning and success.”

Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh: “Our state has lost a true visionary, and our community has lost a wonderful human being. President Floyd was a visionary who saw not only the tremendous potential of Washington State University, but the incredible gifts within each individual. His power of intellect and expression, and his passion for students, will remain an inspiration to all of us.”

University of Idaho President Chuck Staben: “Elson was a talented, visionary leader for higher education on the Palouse, in Washington and beyond. He led with passion, wisdom and the highest integrity.”

Interim University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce: “He was a great champion of higher education and his leadership has left an indelible imprint on our state and students for generations to come. We are all Cougars today.”

State Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville: “It was with deep sadness that I learned of the passing of Elson Floyd this morning. As president of Washington State University, Dr. Floyd was a widely admired leader and a passionate advocate for improved access to higher education. His dedication to his work is demonstrated by the way he championed the new medical school for WSU-Spokane over the last year, even as he suffered from the disease that took his life.

“Anybody can be president of a university when times are good, but only the great ones can succeed during tough financial times. Dr. Floyd shepherded his university through one of the most difficult times for higher education that we have seen in this state.

“He was always a straight shooter. One of the things I admired so much was that he would provide the same message out on the Palouse, at the Spillman Agronomy Farm, about the important role agricultural research plays in our economy, as he did when he addressed business leaders in the skyscrapers of Bellevue.

“The new medical school in Spokane will offer a lasting tribute to his accomplishments. This new institution will expand medical training programs for Washington students, encourage physicians to practice in underserved areas of the state, and provide new opportunities for economic development in Spokane and Eastern Washington. Now that we understand the severity of the personal challenge Dr. Floyd faced as he pushed the bill through the Legislature this session, his accomplishment seems all the more significant.”

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane: “There was no better diplomat for higher education than Elson Floyd.  His tireless dedication made all of Washington’s universities better, our communities stronger and our state’s future brighter.”

State Rep. Marcus Ricelli, D-Spokane: “Despite his health concerns, Dr. Floyd worked tirelessly to create a path for a new generation of doctors to engage in cutting-edge community-based training to ensure Washington patients get the care they deserve. His WSU Medical School will have an enduring impact on the health of the people of our great state and the economic vitality in the Spokane region. But more importantly, the personal impact Dr. Floyd had on the countless lives he touched will forever be how he is celebrated.”