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Winter 2014

In plain sight

Broken Arrow sits in the foyer of the Terrell Library. Thousands pass by it each week, most not realizing it is the work of artist Harold Balazs ’51, or that it was a gift from the Friel family whose lives entwined with the history of the school long after graduation.

Though he planned to be a teacher, Jack Friel ’23 started his 30-year career as the Cougars’ head basketball coach in 1928. As a student, he met Catherine (Matthews) Friel ’23, ’58 MAT in the original college library. They married a few years later and raised their family just a few blocks from campus. Three … » More …

Cougar 1 wine
Fall 2014

Cougar I

A promising pairing of alumni and wine lands this October when the WSU Alumni Association unveils its limited edition Cougar I (pronounced Cougar One) wine.

Joining up with Gordon Estates Winery, the Alumni Association is offering bottles of a rich red blend to members of the Wine-By-Cougars club, those who attend a special release event in the Tri-Cities, and the lucky few who can find it at their grocery stores and wine shops.

Only about 300 cases are available, and the WSUAA expects the wine will go fast.

Gordon Estates is a Washington-rooted, Cougar-run operation. Founder/owners Jeff ’71 and Vicki Gordon, and their daughter Katie … » More …

First Words
Fall 2014

First Words for Fall 2014

As we started assembling this issue, we sought to provide a sweeping view of campus and its environs from architecture to the archives. And then, as it usually happens, a few themes surfaced: anniversaries, hearts and health, and, well, garbage. We discovered subtle ties between the stories, ties that may not be so obvious to the reader, but as we have written, edited, and designed this issue, have lingered in our minds.

First, along with campus maps and Cougar cards, Washington State’s freshmen this month are sharing a book, Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash—a selection from the now eight-year-old and widely successful … » More …

John Mullan
Summer 2014

Lost highway

John Mullan closed the last link of the Northwest Passage and vanished from history—until now

On a May morning in 1858, along a small creek on the northern edge of the Palouse, hundreds of warriors from several Inland Northwest Indian tribes closed in on 160 Army soldiers led by Col. Edward Steptoe. An Army retreat turned into a 10-hour running battle. Two company commanders were mortally wounded, panicking the men. At last, the troops took up defensive positions on a hillside in what is today Rosalia. As night fell, they were surrounded, outgunned, and down to two rounds of ammunition apiece.

More than a … » More …

Nancy Gillett
Spring 2014

Nancy Gillett ’78—The business of science

When pathologist and researcher Nancy Gillett ’78 decided to leave Genentech, a major medical biotechnology firm, for a small contract research company, her colleagues called it professional suicide. But Gillett had made life-altering career decisions before, moving from being a practicing veterinarian to a research scientist and then to a top-level business executive overseeing 5,000 people at 13 sites around the world.

Gillett’s significant success as a researcher and executive has led to accolades, including the 2013 Regents’ Distinguished Alumna Award from Washington State University. Her path to the University’s highest honor started as the young student from Las Vegas, Nevada, came to WSU to … » More …

Spring 2014

What about buckwheat?

Oh, no, no, no,” says Sonoko Sakai as she jets across the test kitchen at the WSU Mount Vernon Research Station to school a student on the proper technique of draining a freshly cooked hand-cut soba noodle.

“Don’t stir it. You have to pat it like this,” she says as she firmly whacks the bottom of the strainer.

Sakai, a former film industry executive, changed course dramatically a few years ago and left LA for Japan to learn the art of making soba, a traditional Japanese noodle made primarily of buckwheat.

She found her way to soba master Takashi Hosokawa and now travels the … » More …

Gleason statue
Spring 2014

Predictive software helps communication

ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a terminal disease that attacks motor neurons, causing patients to lose muscle function. Patients gradually lose their ability to move or speak. Since patients can still move their eyes, advances in eye-tracking technology allow them to operate computer programs, including text to speech software. This eye-tracking technology is the person’s last link to communication—the key to a social or productive life.

However, existing software and hardware is expensive and not accessible to most people with the disease. Led by Professor Dave Bakken ’85, a group of computer science students is working to develop a less … » More …

Museum drawing
Spring 2014

A wider canvas

A new museum of art on the Washington State University campus in Pullman could be a multi-story glass-walled building in which students, alumni, and community members can venture in to an open and intriguing series of galleries.

The new building, now in the conceptual phase, will have more than twice the space of the current 5,000-square-foot museum and include four distinct galleries. It will rise out of the hillside across from the Compton Union Building on the site of the former fire station and current police station.

“It gives an opportunity to complete Terrell Mall in a way that reinforces the public quality of it,” … » More …

WSU football reunion
Spring 2014

After the games

Some students finish school and never take the time to look back. The same goes, perhaps even more so, for student athletes, who often return to their home states or get caught up in either pursuing pro careers or lives outside of sports.

This year, though, one football player made a special effort to reconnect athletes whose names were once synonymous with WSU.

Wanting to give back to the school that gave him a college career, Derek Sparks ’95 approached the WSU Athletic Department and asked if he could be of use in some way. Someone tossed out the idea of his reaching out … » More …