Legislators in both chambers honored late Washington State University president Elson Floyd with a resolution on Thursday, highlighting how the charismatic leader lobbied the Legislature for a new public medical school even as his own health was in decline.
Floyd died Saturday at 59 from complications from colon cancer, two weeks after taking medical leave.
“He was the definitive champion for moving WSU forward and a tireless advocate for creating a WSU medical school,” said Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane.
The resolution adopted by lawmakers lists several of Floyd’s accomplishments at the university, including the establishment of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication, Ste. Michelle Wine Estates Wine Science Center and the Paul G. Allen School for Global Animal Health.
Research funding increased by an “astounding” 57 percent under Floyd’s tenure, while enrollment reached “record highs” — including a spike in the number of students from diverse backgrounds, according to the resolution.
“To know Elson was to like him, to respect him, to admire him. It’s so tough that such a gift was taken so soon,” said Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.
The university president had a way of bringing Republicans and Democrats together, Baumgartner said, as evidenced by the passage of a bill by the Legislature in March that allows WSU to establish its own medical school.
On Thursday, a bill was introduced in the House to name the new medical school the Elson S. Floyd School of Medicine. The Senate is expected to file a companion bill.
TVW taped both the House and Senate floor resolutions — links will be posted online here.