For starters, alumnus Robert C. Bates wants to get reacquainted with Washington State University, its goals, and needs “so we can work together to make this fine institution even better.”

Bates began his duties as new provost and academic vice president in January. He is responsible for all academic issues, ensuring the excellence of WSU programs. His early plans, he said, include meeting with students, faculty, staff, and administrators throughout the state to become familiar with all aspects of the University’s land-grant mission.

The longtime administrator at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University was the clear choice in the national search to fill the provost’s position.

“His background, experience, and character seem to fit very well with our team,” said President V. Lane Rawlins.

A native of Portland, Oregon, Bates completed a master’s degree in bacteriology and public health at WSU in 1969. Despite being away from the University for some 33 years, he vividly remembers his years in Pullman.

“The mentoring gained from faculty during this formative time prepared me well for the challenges and opportunities that would eventually come during my career,” he says.

The enthusiasm he knew on campus still continues. “The student-centered environment where graduate and undergraduate students work closely with faculty members is quite apparent,” he says.

Bates earned his bachelor’s degree from Lewis and Clark College, Portland, in 1966. He received a doctorate in microbiology with a specialty in virology from Colorado State University in 1972. Recently, he was recognized as one of 20 individuals in CSU’s Gallery of Contemporary Scientists.

He has conducted research on molecular biology of parvoviruses and has received numerous research grants from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation, and American Cancer Society. At Virginia Tech, he directed the research of several master’s- and doctoral-level graduate students and taught courses in microbiology and virology. He has published 47 referred book chapters and journal articles, as well as 15 technical reports on virus topics.

His wife, Wendy Kennard Bates (’68 Elem. Educ.), grew up in Tacoma. The couple met while studying at WSU. They have three children.