In late April, the WSU Foundation hosted its 2022 Spring Meeting and 42nd Annual Recognition Gala at the Sheraton Grand Hotel in Seattle, where both volunteers and WSU Advancement staff engaged in two-and-a-half days of business meetings and festivities. The excitement and enthusiasm were evident from start to finish! 

Sunday, April 24
The agenda kicked off with four simultaneous Advocates and Advocates Emeriti Task Force meetings on Sunday afternoon, which gave members the chance to convene in-person (plus some over Zoom) to move their Task Force charges forward. (Their takeaways and next steps were reported out during the full Advocates and Advocates Emeriti meeting on Tuesday morning.)

This was followed by Sunday evening’s welcome reception, hosted by CEO Mike Connell. This was an opportunity for attendees to mingle with President and First Lady Schulz as well as chancellors, deans, and Advancement senior leaders who were in attendance as well.

Monday, April 25

Monday morning kicked off with the Welcome Session and Chancellor’s Update, which featured news and notable developments from all six chancellors regarding enrollment trends, new programs and initiatives, and fundraising highlights from across the system. 

This was followed by an interest session from the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, which ran concurrently with the Board of Directors Audit Committee meeting. Dean Mary Rezac and Jim Coughlin, chair of the VCEA facilities task force and WSUF board member, laid out an ambitious plan to modernize and transform the VCEA “precinct” on the Pullman campus, starting with Schweitzer Engineering Hall
After lunch, another interest session—WSU, Wagyu, and You!—featured an informative history of the CAHNRS Wagyu beef herd, as well as research advances in genetics and finished-beef production, from Gordon Murdoch, chair of the Animal Sciences department. (This ran concurrently with the BOD Governance Committee session.) 
Afterwards, all attendees came back together for a Volunteers Strategic Planning Listening Session, which gave both Board members and Advocates/Advocates Emeriti a chance to weigh in on the five pillars of the WSU Advancement Strategic Plan. As with all the previous Advancement listening sessions, these responses were recorded by staff note-takers and will inform a further refinement of the final Strategic Plan. 
The first full day wrapped up with an inspiring Young Alumni panel discussion, moderated by WSUAA’s Kelly Brantner, which showcased four young Cougs who have gone out in the world to make an impressive impact, thanks to their WSU studies, faculty and staff mentorship, and alumni connections. 
Tuesday, April 26
Day Two commenced with another interest session: Diversifying WSU Tri-Cities Faculty and Undergraduate Research: Endowed Professorships in Environmental Justice. Chancellor Sandra Haynes and her team laid out the unique promise of the Tri-Cities campus to lead the way in both sustainable energy research and the development of future leaders among the region’s Latinx student population. (This session ran concurrently with the BOD Investment Committee meeting.) 
Next on the agenda was the Advocates and Advocates Emeriti meeting, co-chaired by Rebecca Zanatta and Mandy Minick, open to all attendees and also via Zoom. President Schulz led off with a system update, including a recap of WSU’s successful pivot during the pandemic, and the current opportunity to “re-establish ourselves” by “re-focusing on our land-grant mission, serving our state, and working with communities.” Next up: Don Shearer provided an overview of Advancement’s exceptional year-to-date fundraising results. Then, each of the Task Force chairs summarized the key takeaways from the Sunday sessions, and Julie Benson closed the meeting with a high-level campaign discussion.  
Tuesday’s luncheon featured a talk by Athletics Director Pat Chun, who summarized highlights from the past year—leading off with women’s and men’s basketball, as well as the Apple Cup victory (capping off the successful transition to a new coaching staff), plus the Title IX 50th anniversary activities. He also offered insights into NCAA rule changes and how this has transformed the competitive environment for recruitment. AD Chun’s talk was well-attended, both in-person and via Zoom. 
The final interest session—3-Minute Thesis, hosted by the Graduate School and College of Education—ran concurrently with the Board of Directors Spring meeting. This session highlighted the history of this competition, which invites PhD candidates to succinctly share their research with non-academic audiences and featured an in-person perspective from the most recent winner, Grant Ely, from the College of Nursing.
WSUF Recognition Gala
The rest of the afternoon was an opportunity for all to prepare for the Gala that evening. More than 95 donors, guests, volunteers, and honorees attended, along with 63 staff. Virtual attendance was higher than expected, with nearly 140 unique log-ins and an estimated 250 viewers.

The room shimmered with a vibrant silver-and-crimson theme, and guests were treated to music from an all-Cougar jazz fusion group, the Jazz Wires, and the expert hosting skills of Brady Wakayama, ’16, a Murrow College grad who is now a reporter for KING 5 News in Seattle. Along with Brady, President Schulz and Don Shearer offered a hearty Cougar welcome to everyone attending in person and via livestream, and we proceeded to learn about each of the evening’s honorees via video profiles. The program also included videos featuring two scholarship recipients and a faculty beneficiary of philanthropic investment.

Guests were wowed by an in-person testimonial of the value of donor investment in scholarships by the vivacious Lindsey Luis, a current WSU Vancouver student studying social sciences and human development. At the end of the festivities, the chair of the WSUF Board of Directors, Lisa King, offered a final toast to each of the honorees who attended.