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WSU Vancouver considers past growth, future plans

Washington State University Vancouver has grown both in size and scope since it was established as a branch campus in 1989. Over the past 25 years, it has gone from holding classes in Bauer Hall at Clark College to having a 351-acre campus with thirteen buildings and over six miles of trails. At the first graduation ceremony in 1990, 38 students received degrees, while this year’s commencement saw 915 students graduate.

It took two years for WSU Vancouver to find the current site for campus, which was purchased for $5.5 million in 1991. Three years after the site was purchased, a groundbreaking ceremony was held with over 400 people in attendance. Shortly after the ceremony construction began, and two years later the doors were opened to students. The class of 1997 was the first group of Cougs to graduate at the current Salmon Creek location. Nancy Youlden, the vice chancellor for student affairs, said “it usually takes six years from start to finish” for a building project this large. Youlden said that once the construction begins it can “take about 18+ months to complete.” The rest of the time is spent in preparation, securing the appropriate permits and funding, and in design.

The doors may have opened in 1996, but that did not end the expansion of campus. In 2001 two more buildings were opened to students: the Multimedia Classroom building, and the Engineering Life Science building. In 2004, WSU Vancouver established the School of Engineering and Computer Science as its first independent school. The first freshman class began in 2006, adding to the already-growing student population. The Firstenberg Student Commons was originally the Bookie, but in 2007, a remodel was started to make FSC into what it is today. “Student fees along with a significant private donation (Firstenburg’s) helped fund the remodel,” Youlden stated. Construction on the Undergraduate building also began in 2007. Youlden said, “These buildings were added/remodeled because of our overall student growth and program/academic needs.” In 2011 the administration building was named Dengerink, to honor the founding chancellor Hal Dengerink upon his retirement.

“Students have been very active in the development and culture of our campus… In the realm of colleges and universities, WSU Vancouver is still very young and our current students still have a great opportunity to help shape and put their ‘fingerprints’ on this campus,” Youlden said. Students can help continue to shape the campus and university itself in many ways. Thanks to students, there are plans to give the veterans a center on campus, making everything more centralized for them. There are also plans to build a student life building in the future. There are a wide variety of clubs and organizations on campus that students can join, and many of them host events for the student body as a whole.

For more information on how to get involved, as well as a list of organizations and events, visit vancouver.wsu.edu

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