The semester is winding up

Green rolling hills of Steptoe Butte.
Green rolling hills of Steptoe Butte State Park near Colfax, WA.

I have to admit, last week was a bit slow. I suspect those that had not taken a break the week of Dec. 19 might have still been away part of last week. I used the slow time to prepare for the semester to move into full swing this week.

I visited the Composite Materials and Engineering Center. I was surprised to learn that the Center includes air quality research, though it makes perfect sense when I think about building materials and volatile organic compound standards. The agriculture-related air quality work that Tom Jobson does was an unexpected and welcome surprise. In addition to showing me the impressive spaces in the PACCAR Environmental Technology Building, Karl Englund gave me a very quick tour of the space at the Research and Technology Park. My partner would envy the woodworking tools and fabrication equipment present.

It seems many meetings remain on Zoom, but without that method I suspect I would not have had the chance to meet with one of the WSU Regents last week. WSU is fortunate to have Regents that are strongly supportive of our mission. Already incredibly busy in their day jobs, the Regents are committed to keeping WSU on a strong trajectory. I was pleased to hear Regent Dickinson’s interest in learning more about the breadth of work in CAHNRS and our impact across the state. I will keep this conversation in mind as the CAHNRS Growth and Visioning Task Force goes about its work. The task force meets this week to chart a course and work on messaging around a future state vision.

Last week I had a great Zoom conversation with a group of leaders from across WSU who focus their time around brainstorming strategic engagement opportunities. I am excited to see CAHNRS at the table for those meetings and look forward to touching base with that group regularly to see where we can work together to advance priorities.

This week I will spend some time with the chairs and directors. I am excited that Soo-Yeun Lee has arrived safely in Pullman! Soo jumped right into her new director role with the School of Food Science and is already getting to know her team. Debbie Handy has also jumped into her new role of interim department chair in the Department of Human Development. Strong teams make for fun work, and I am fortunate to be part of a strong team of leaders across CAHNRS! I will have a chance to spend a brief hour with my home Department of Animal Sciences this week and catch up on what is going on there.

The new USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS) building is progressing. I met with Tara McHugh from ARS in Albany, Calif. last week. Joon Park of ARS and I will touch base this week so I can learn about progress on the construction agreement and breaking ground for the new building. Given the weather this past week, it almost seems like it is time for spring construction to begin. No doubt I will be brought back to reality soon.

I made the most of the weather this past week. First, I went to the top of Steptoe Butte and confirmed that, yes, I remain terrified of heights. I suspect I will not do that often. I also drove down US 195 from Spokane just to get a different view of a new path through Washington. I have much more to see and am eager to get out and about to learn more about CAHNRS programs and meet the talented people behind them.