In Memoriam: Elson S. Floyd (1956-2015)

Elson-Floyd-thumbElson S. Floyd, president of Washington State University, took a medical leave of absence, in early June. Media outlets reported that President Floyd had colon cancer. Dr. Floyd died on June 20.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said “this was a man wholly devoted to serving his state and expanding opportunities for all of Washington’s students. He loved inspiring students and challenging them. Thanks to Elson, there are Cougars all around the world engaged in innovative and influential work.”

Ryan Durkan, chair of the university’s board of regents added, “The university’s progress during President Floyd’s tenure is unprecedented. And his legacy will serve the people of Washington, the nation and the world for generations to come. We have lost a visionary and one of the most compassionate leaders I have had the pleasure of working with.”

Dr. Floyd became the 10th president of Washington State University in May 2007. Previously, he was the president of the four-campus University of Missouri System and was president of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. Earlier, he served as executive vice president of Eastern Washington University.

In 2014 the board of regents of Washington State University announced that it had extended Dr. Floyd’s contract through June 30, 2021. According to a recent survey, Dr. Floyd had the second-highest base salary of any state-operated university president in the nation.

President Floyd was a native of Henderson, N.C. He held a bachelor’s degree in political science and speech, a master’s degree in adult education, and a doctorate in higher and adult education, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


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