Elson Floyd

  • Died: June 20, 2015
  • Location: Pullman, Washington

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Elson Floyd

Washington State University President dies at 59

The Associated Press

PULLMAN, Wash. (AP) — Elson Floyd, president of Washington State University, has died at 59 of complications from colon cancer.

Floyd had been president since 2007 and went on medical leave earlier this month. He died Saturday morning at Pullman Regional Hospital, said a school spokeswoman, Kathy Barnard.

"Though his prognosis and outlook remained positive, recently the illness took a more serious turn," wrote Board of Regents Chair Ryan Durkan in an email to the faculty and staff members.

Among his achievements, Durkan said, are a successful $1 billion capital campaign, bipartisan support for a medical school at WSU's Spokane campus and the Washington State's largest enrollment in 125 years.

Floyd, a native of North Carolina, was the 10th president of the school, whose main campus is in Pullman in far eastern Washington.

His university biography lists previous posts as president of the four-campus University of Missouri and president of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo. He began his career at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he had done his undergraduate and post-graduate work.

Referring to Washington State's athletic mascot, Gov. Jay Inslee said Elson "turned Washington State into Cougar State, dramatically expanding the scope of the university on both sides of the mountains."

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington called him "truly one of a kind. He led WSU with incredible energy, passion, and a deep and personal commitment to our students and communities." U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington cited his enthusiasm for a range of initiatives, from biofuels to medical education.

Details of a memorial service are pending, the school said.