History

Founded in 1890, with its land grant mission in mind, WSU’s history is filled with stories about remarkable people of wisdom, talent, and commitment who built and nurtured what has grown into one of the nation’s top public research institutions. Over the course of that history, WSU’s family – faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends – have transformed lives both here and abroad.

WSU History Highlights:

  • On January 13, 1892 the institution opening its doors with 59 students under the name Washington Agricultural College and School of Science.
  • Instruction began in 1895 in the future College of Veterinary Medicine.
  • In 1919, the cougar was adopted as the official mascot.
  • In 1927, a cougar cub was presented to the student body of Washington State and was named Butch T. Cougar after Herbert “Butch” Meeker of Spokane, a football star.
  • Naming, in 1957, of Frances Penrose Owen as the first woman on the WSU Board of Regents.
  • On May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted and covered the campus in one-half inch of volcanic ash.
  • In 1986, WSU biochemist Clarence A. “Bud” Ryan was selected for membership in the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, the first WSU professor so honored.
  • The nationally-acclaimed WSU Honors College received a new home in 2001, with the grand opening of Honors Hall, celebrating the college’s 40th anniversary.
  • WSU is ranked among the nation’s top 50 public research universities.
  • Current WSU President, Elson S. Floyd, takes office as the tenth president in 2007.
  • $25 million grant received in 2008 from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for the School of Global Animal Health, the largest grant in WSU history.
  • 2009 marked the 20th anniversary of WSU Spokane, WSU Tri-Cities and WSU Vancouver, all founded in 1989.
  • WSU Distance Degres becomes WSU Online in 2010.
  • Global Campus is established in July of 2011.

WSU has grown from a single campus in Pullman into the internationally respected, multi-campus university it is today, ranked among the top tier of American research institutions.

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