President Elson S. Floyd remembered

The WSU community has lost a beloved president and a great man.

President Elson S. Floyd passed away last weekend in Pullman at age 59 from colon cancer complications. Floyd served as WSU’s 10th president from May 2007 until his passing on June 20, 2015.

A family service will be held in North Carolina before any official service takes place in Pullman, said Kathy Barnard, the University’s executice director of communications.

“As student oriented as President Floyd was, I would imagine a memorial service will take place some time after students return in the fall,” Barnard said.

Floyd’s accolades during his presidency at WSU were numerous.

Under his leadership, WSU’s enrollment increased by 17 percent, the amount of annual research grants was increased from $200 million to $600 million, bipartisan support was encouraged for a bill allowing WSU to open a medical school, and a WSU North Puget Sound in Everett was opened, among many other achievements.

He is known for taking a voluntary, $100,000 pay cut in November 2008, in light of the University’s budgetary difficulties. Of the cut, Floyd stated that he wanted to lead by example.

During the University’s financial aid crisis in 2012, Floyd held office hours in the Compton Union Building to be more accessible to students with questions and concerns, and addressed questions from a crowd of student demonstrators in the French Administration building.

Floyd often contributed editorials to The Daily Evergreen in editions that addressed important issues for students, such as the mental health series in 2014.

Floyd was known to remember individual students by name, and often gave out his personal phone number for support.

WSU was his third university presidency, serving at University of Missouri from 2003 until 2007, where he picked up the nickname “E-Flo,” given to him by the university’s student newspaper. WSU students have used the nickname fondly since his arrival, attesting to his open, congenial relationship with them.

From August 1998 until January 2003, Floyd served as the sixth president at Western Michigan University.

In addition to holding presidencies, Floyd was chief administrative and operating officer at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, his alma mater, and was executive director of the Washington State Higher Education Coordinating Board.

On saturday, students, faculty, administrators and other members of the WSU community paid tribute to Floyd through social media posts and delivery of flowers.

His family suggests that the best way to show support is to make gifts to Floyd’s foundation, the Elson S. Floyd Founders Fund for the WSU College of Medicine.