Skip to main content Skip to navigation


Spring 2004

Poor farm kid makes good

Sherman Alexie likes to remind people that attending Washington State University presented him with a real challenge. As a Spokane Indian, a liberal, and a writer, he did not fit the prevalent mold of students attending WSU in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Regardless, on October 10, 2003, WSU president V. Lane Rawlins presented Alexie with the University’s highest alumni honor, the Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Since leaving WSU in 1994 with a bachelor’s degree in American studies, Alexie has published nine books of fiction and poetry and has written and directed two award-winning movies. Widely popular, his short stories appear in the nation’s … » More …

Summer 2004

New digs fo plant scientists

The corner of Stadium Way and Wilson Road (across the street from French Ad) is looking more downtown with the ongoing construction of the Plant Biosciences Building. Campus leaders have high hopes for the research potential the $239-million, 93,000-square-foot building represents. And this is just Phase 1 of a planned biotechnology research and education complex clustered around Johnson Hall. The new building will house 30 research laboratories on the top three floors and four teaching labs on the ground floor. About one-third of those labs will go to USDA Agricultural Research Service scientists.

Winter 2003

Niva, Cox named WSU regents

Connie Millard Niva and Angela S. Cox were named by Governor Gary Locke this summer to Washington State University’s 10-member Board of Regents. Cox will serve as the student member, a position created in 1998.

Niva (’62 Bact. & Public Health) makes her home in Everett. She served on the Everett City Council, 1986-89, and on the Washington State Transportation Commission for 10 years, including three as chair.

As a regent, she says, she’d like to see WSU continue making progress in creating the best undergraduate experience and in nurturing a world class environment for research, scholarship, and graduate education. She also wants WSU to … » More …

Winter 2003

Philip Phibbs's legacy

“No decisions are easy, particularly when you are a university president and you are changing an institution.” —Philip Phibbs

More than a decade removed from the presidency of the University of Puget Sound, Philip M. Phibbs remembers the job as tough and demanding. But he loved it.

Many decisions he made, he acknowledges now, were difficult. They affected academic programs and peoples’ lives. Through it all, he’s confident the UPS is better today for his efforts.

Phibbs shared thoughts about his presidency during a late April visit to Washington State University. He and Gwen, his wife of 49 years, returned to Pullman to celebrate the … » More …

Winter 2003

Is there life after basketball?

Donaldson finds it in business and community

James Donaldson would like you to know that he’s fine not playing basketball. Sure, the former Washington State center spent 20 seasons in the National Basketball Association and on the European circuit. And yes, it brought him some nice paychecks and an opportunity to compete at the highest levels of professional basketball. But it’s never been a case of “basketball is life.”

Now don’t get the wrong picture. Donaldson still misses the competition. Still misses the practices–really–and the nightly face-off in games.

But here’s the ugly side of pro sports—it’s cutthroat. Younger players are always brought in to … » More …

Winter 2003

Benzel helped set state education reform in motion

Brian Benzel embraces the challenge of helping every child master key educational skills. As superintendent of Spokane Area Schools, the second largest school district in Washington, he oversees a $264 million annual budget, more than 30,000 students, 3,500 employees, and 50 schools.

“I’m excited about what we’re trying to do with education in Spokane, in the state, and in America,” he said earlier this year from his downtown office.

“Clearly society has moved to a place where high school [education] alone is not sufficient today. It’s stated as a goal for the country that all children should be able to master those core skills—math, reading, … » More …

Winter 2003

Working to prevent another Chornobyl

“While it is devastating to see the impact of the Chornobyl accident—both economically and socially—international nuclear safety has advanced significantly because of this incident.” — Susan Senner

Teams of communications professionals at the Hanford Site in Richland, Washington, juggled shifts to respond to hoards of news media calls in April 1986 about a catastrophic accident at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine. Susan McKenna Senner worked with this group, responding to questions about Hanford’s N-Reactor, which had some design similarities to the ill-fated Chornobyl plant. The Hanford crew manned phones and provided reassurance that multiple safety systems in place at N-Reactor would prevent such … » More …

Winter 2003

On top at last: John and Jess Roskelley scale Everest together

“The goal you set for yourself is to stay the course . . . to stay focused. At any time you get tired of the glare off the snow, the dust, the miles of glacial terrain, the travel, the lack of sleep, the altitude. The altitude just takes a huge toll on you.” —John Roskelley

After four failed attempts, the last one 10 years ago, John Roskelley must have wondered if he’d ever get another chance to conquer 29,035-foot Mount Everest. Or even if he wanted to.

Never underestimate Roskelley’s resolve.

The Spokane County commissioner has been climbing since 1965. For years he was among … » More …