Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center
Former WSU President Elson S. Floyd pulled together a group of campus leaders in late 2014 to sketch out a vision of a new kind of building on campus: a place for cultural education and events. Although Floyd died in 2015, the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, under construction on the corner of Stadium and Main, will be a signature welcome to WSU with a “rolling hills” roof and open design.
Maria de Jesus Dixon, manager of operations for the Cultural Center, believes the center is unique among the nation’s universities and colleges. WSU’s multicultural student population has grown to 29 percent, and Dixon says the new center does not replace support for those students, but rather delivers educational and meeting space for the whole campus.
“It’s an extension of the classroom,” says Dixon. “We want to augment the academic departments of the University with educational programs related to the cultural and interdisciplinary experience of students, faculty, and alumni.”
She says the center will host scholars, lectures, and meetings, such as multicultural alumni events. Job fairs, conferences, and collaborative work with WSU colleges will enhance the new center’s offerings.
The architects sought extensive advice from the WSU community for the design. This led to amenities that include four knowledge rooms, an open “living room” space for larger events, and a commercial and demonstration kitchen. Food’s a big part of culture, says Dixon, and the center’s kitchen will be integral to events. Art and design also educate visitors on the histories and contributions of African, Native, Latina/o, and Asian Americans to the state of Washington and WSU.
A dedication by Nez Perce leaders paid homage in early 2016 to the traditional lands that WSU Pullman sits on. The Cultural Center is set to open in spring 2017.