CAS honors awards canceled because of COVID-19

Dean recognizes student, staff achievements; says he is ‘ecstatic’ about campus vaccination rates



Todd Butler, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, recognized student and staff accomplishments that were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic during a Tuesday Town Hall.

ALEXANDRIA OSBORNE, Evergreen reporter, columnist, copy editor

The College of Arts and Sciences held its first all-college meeting on Tuesday in the Bryan Hall Theater where students and staff were honored for their accomplishments. 

Between March 2020 and August 2021, students and staff missed out on multiple traditions celebrating their accomplishments, CAS Dean Todd Butler said. There are almost 300 achievements the college has not been able to celebrate. 

The WSU Showcase Awards were one of the first events affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, Butler said.

“[They] represent the highest of achievements in scholarship, teaching and service,” he said. “In the past few years, 12 of our colleagues were selected for these awards … their work has placed, once again, at the pinnacle of achievements at WSU.”

Along with the showcase awards, other events were also canceled during the pandemic, Butler said. 

Fifty-five awards have been given to students, staff and faculty over the past two years, he said. 

“We’ve missed the occasion not only to congratulate these people we know, but also to learn more about the achievements and the passions of the colleagues we haven’t met yet,” Butler said. 

CAS has websites dedicated to the 2020 and 2021 award winners. 

Promotions and tenure are big milestones for faculty members, which they work toward for years. In 2020, 33 faculty members were promoted or tenured, he said. There were 34 members in 2021.

Outstanding seniors also missed out on being recognized for the past two years, Butler said. This includes the advising staff and faculty members who guided them along the way. 

“Each of these recognitions, no matter what the awards were, is built upon a much larger series of moments of early mornings, of late nights, of frustrations and challenges and small victories that together constitute our daily lives,” he said.  

After honoring awards pushed from a couple of years ago, Butler discussed WSU’s COVID-19 vaccination and infection rates. 

“I understand the challenges of being optimistic,” he said. “So I’d like instead to at least be hopeful, and that hope is grounded upon the fact that our student vaccination rates … are sustained and exceptional.” 

The compliance rate for the COVID-19 vaccine at WSU Pullman is around 90 percent, he said. 

“If you had told me in June or July that in October, 95 percent of our student body here in Pullman and elsewhere would be vaccinated, I would have been ecstatic — and I still am,” he said. 

Butler said the vaccination rates for employees at WSU are exceptionally high. Out of the 1,400 student employees and faculty he has listed in Workday, 1,300 have complied. 

He said he has seen COVID-19 cases start to drop in Pullman as well. 

“It’s because y’all have been responsible and done what we needed to do,” Butler said. “That’s why I’m hopeful.”

The town hall meeting is available online