WSU Provost reflects on career

Oversight of extensions, work to build medical school all part of 14-year legacy



“If you talk to my friends and family, they will tell you that WSU is probably the most important thing to me, after family,” Provost Dan Bernardo says as he explains his decision to step down from his position.

MADYSEN MCLAIN, Evergreen reporter

Dan Bernardo, WSU provost and executive vice president, has announced his plans to step down from his current position to serve as special adviser to the president after a 14-year career at WSU.

“These types of leadership positions are really challenging,” Bernardo said. “Being the provost is a grinder. There are many activities and initiatives you have to manage.”

Besides the stress that comes with the position, he said he felt it was the right timing to move to a different position as President Kirk Schulz’s special adviser.

“My body was giving me some signals that perhaps I might need to step back and downshift in life,” Bernardo said.

He will remain in his current position as provost until the end of the spring 2019 semester.

Bernardo began his administrative career at WSU in 2005 when he was asked to become the dean of the College of Agriculture, Human and Natural Resource Sciences.

“WSU is my alma mater and a place I hold very dear in my heart,” Bernardo said. “I had the phenomenal opportunity to come back as a dean.”

Bernardo also served as vice president for agriculture during his time at WSU, and was given oversight of WSU Extension facilities, he said.

There are now 39 extension offices in Washington state, said Phil Weiler, WSU vice president for marketing and communications.

Bernardo has a background in agriculture, Weiler said. He grew up on a Californian farm and received his master’s degree in agricultural and economics from WSU.

“[Bernardo] has a long history with WSU and deep roots here,” Weiler said.

Bernardo then went on to take the interim provost position in 2013 until he was appointed to provost in 2014.

As provost, Bernardo has been responsible for WSU’s academic affairs, programs and the deans of all six campuses. He also oversees enrollment management, including admission, recruitment and financial aid for WSU.

The Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, institutional research, tribal programs, ROTC and corporate relations are overseen by the office as well.

In one of his most significant projects, Bernardo helped develop WSU’s Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine in Spokane.

Former WSU President Elson S. Floyd received the authorization from the Washington State Legislature to move forward with the medical school in 2015.

The school received its first class of students in 2017 which was within 18 months of approval, Bernardo said.

The two-year turnaround for the medical school was one of the fastest in the country, he said.

“If you talk to my friends and family, they will tell you that WSU is probably the most important thing to me, after family,” Bernardo said. “Sometimes my wife might say even that order is flipped.”

While Bernardo prepares to step down in the spring, WSU has hired Isaacson Miller, a private applicant search firm, to seek a new provost, Weiler said.

“Essentially the staff there knows every provost in America,” he said. “They know WSU and have a good idea what kinds of people we are looking for.”

Weiler said that for high-profile positions at WSU, they tend to look for applicants who already hold provost positions at other universities and plan to step down.

There will be meetings held starting Monday for faculty, staff and students to express qualities needed in potential provost candidates, Weiler said. WSU will be collecting input from all six campuses.

WSU plans on making a selection for the new provost by the end of spring 2019, who will then start July 1.