In Vancouver, Washington there’s a high school principal’s office heavily adorned in crimson and gray flags, photos, pom-pons, and other WSU novelties. It is the office of Ed Little. Ed’s spirited décor undoubtedly shows that he loves the Cougs. But what the walls cannot fully convey is his deeply personal connection to WSU.
“I’ve never forgotten how WSU supported me at a time when I had no money and didn’t know where to turn,” he says. “They stepped in and I got a wonderful education.”
Ed’s story began in 1974 along the sidelines in Eugene’s Autzen Stadium as he cheered with his fellow Cougar Yell Squad members. It was then that he received the message that changed his life—his father had fallen and suffered serious injuries. Generously, the wife of then-assistant athletic director, Sam Jankovich, drove Ed to the airport and purchased his ticket home so that he could be by his father’s side throughout many risky operations.
In time, Ed’s father recovered, but the accident left a tremendous financial strain on his family.
“It literally wiped out my parents’ savings, so there was no money left,” says Ed. “I thought I might have to drop out of school and try to find a job. I still remember that lost feeling.”
But Jankovich and WSU President Glenn Terrell would not let that feeling—or those thoughts— remain. The two encouraged Ed to return to school and the University arranged a part-time job and low-interest loans.
In 1976, Ed graduated with a degree in education. Since then, he has served as an educator for nearly 36 years and is now the principal at a private college-prep high school where he proudly displays his love for WSU and advocates it as a wise choice for many of his college-bound students.
“These kids are really looking for a college that treats them not as numbers but as people,” he says of why he encourages his students to apply to WSU.
Today, Ed is a faithful supporter of WSU. He fully understands that the contributions of individuals, when added together, make a significant impact on the University. He has served as Cougar Club president and as a board member and president of the WSU Alumni Association. He and his wife Cristi (’76 Sp. & Hear. Sci.), who is also a WSU alumna, are Friends of the Library and have generously supported programs across the University.
The couple’s son, Adam (’08 Bus. Admin.), and daughter, Meghan (’11 Ed.) are also Cougs. Together, they continue to cheer on the Cougar football team each fall.