RICHLAND, Wash. — H. Keith Moo-Young, who has served as chancellor of Washington State University Tri-Cities for the past four years, today announced he will step down from the position in the near future.

The university will immediately launch a national search for a new chancellor. Moo-Young will remain in the campus leadership post until his successor is in place, likely in early 2018.

H. Keith Moo-Young

H. Keith Moo-Young

“Keith Moo-Young has led our Tri-Cities campus to a number of outstanding achievements the last four years,” said WSU President Kirk Schulz. “From enrollment growth to the establishment of strong partnerships with community groups throughout the greater Columbia Basin, Keith is leaving the campus in a better position than it was in four years ago. I greatly appreciate his leadership.”

Under Moo-Young’s stewardship, enrollment at the campus in Richland grew steadily, totaling 1,825 students for the just-concluded spring semester—a 21 percent increase from the previous spring. The campus enrolls the most diverse student body in the WSU statewide system. For spring semester, 35.8 percent of students identified as minorities, 57.4 percent female, and 36.6 percent first generation.

The Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center also was established on campus during Moo-Young’s tenure. The wine science center, which opened nearly two years ago, is considered one of the most technologically advanced in the world. The facility is expected to become a magnet for attracting world-class researchers and students who will focus efforts on opportunities and challenges facing grape growers and winemakers in the Pacific Northwest.

“I would like to thank Washington State University, President Schulz, and the WSU Tri-Cities faculty and staff for the exciting opportunity to lead the campus,” Moo-Young said.   “With the tremendous support of the community, we accomplished a great deal to establish WSU Tri-Cities as a destination campus. I’m particularly pleased by the potential to add student housing on campus, creation of the $18 million Kadlec nursing professorship endowment and establishment of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. I look forward to the future of the campus as the community continues to grow and develop.”

More than 70 percent of WSU Tri-Cities students study STEM-related academic disciplines. The campus seeks to expand science and engineering programs focused on bioproducts and sustainable energy, wine science and K-12 STEM education. WSU Tri-Cities emphasizes hands-on learning through internships, co-ops and project-based courses.

The WSU Tri-Cities GEAR UP program (Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs) is one of the largest in the country, serving more than 20,000 students beginning in middle school and receiving almost $90 million in funding in 14 years. GEAR UP is a competitive federal program that provides six- and seven-year grants to education/community partnerships and states to increase the number of low-income students who are prepared to enter and succeed in postsecondary education.

“The Tri-Cities campus is a vital part of our statewide enterprise and our commitment to the state,” Schulz said. “This is due in large part to Keith’s vision and hard work.”

Prior to joining WSU, Moo-Young served as dean of the College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology at California State University, Los Angeles. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Inventors (NAI), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and American Academy of Environmental Engineers.

Media Contacts:

Robert Strenge, WSU News, 509-335-3583,

Jeffrey Dennison, WSU Tri-Cities Marketing and Communications, 509-372-7319,

By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Kylie Chiesa, this year’s Washington State University Tri-Cities valedictorian, has always felt she had a special connection to children with developmental and physical disabilities.

She began working as a life-skills helper in high school and with her school’s Buddy Club.

“They learn in unique ways that fit their individual personalities and needs,” she said. “It is incredibly rewarding to see these individuals grow at their own pace in order to make their distinctive mark on the world around them.”

Finding her passion

In college, Chiesa started on the nursing track, but soon realized that career path wasn’t for her. From there, she spent three summers working at a camp for children with disabilities at The Arc of Tri-Cities, and realized that working with disabled children was her true passion.

Chiesa spent three years as a paraeducator at Canyon View Elementary School in Kennewick before deciding to pursue a degree in education with an endorsement in special education from WSU Tri-Cities.

“I loved what I was doing and decided to take the next step to become a teacher,” she said.

Kylie ChiesaClassroom exposure

During her coursework at WSU Tri-Cities, Chiesa had the opportunity to complete several practicum experiences in the classroom. She served in a variety of elementary school classrooms around the Tri-Cities focused that focused on general education, autism, and life-skills. Currently, she serves as a long-term substitute teacher in a resource classroom at Lincoln Elementary School and Canyon View Elementary School.

“My education at WSU Tri-Cities prepared me for a career as a teacher in many ways,” she said. “Going to different placements allowed for me to see many different teaching methods, strategies and approaches. The courses I took prepared me for teaching various subjects.”

In each class, she and her fellow students were given tools that they could use to stock a figurative tool bag.

“When we step into our first classroom, we will have a tool bag full of various tools to use with our students,” she said. But the learning won’t stop there, Chiesa added, as WSU Tri-Cities also taught her to be a lifelong learner.

First position in Kennewick

Chiesa has accepted her first teaching position as a primary autism teacher at Washington Elementary School in the Kennewick School District.

“Far too often, children with special needs are told what they can’t do,” she said. “Instead of focusing on everything these children can do. I repeatedly hear them described by their limitations. It is my goal to discover what those children with special needs can do well and assist them in reaching their full potential. There is no greater joy than seeing a student meet a milestone that they have been working so hard to achieve.”

Chiesa will graduate with the 2017 WSU Tri-Cities class at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the Toyota Center, 7000 W. Grandridge Blvd., in Kennewick, Wash. Doors open at noon. The event is free to the public and tickets are not required.


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Kylie Chiesa, WSU Tri-Cities valedictorian,

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities will confer 372 degrees during its commencement ceremony beginning at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the Toyota Center, 7000 W. Grandridge Blvd. in Kennewick, Wash.

WSU Tri-Cities commencementDoors open at noon. The event is free to the public and tickets are not required.

Among those graduating, 313 students are earning their bachelor’s degrees, 46 master’s and 13 doctoral degrees.

Chancellor Keith Moo-Young will present the welcome address, the Chancellor’s Excellence Award for faculty and staff and will confer degrees. He will also present the Distinguished Alumnus Award to Gesa Credit Union CEO Don Miller. Michele Acker-Hocevar, interim vice chancellor for academic affairs, will present introductions and recognitions.

Israa Alshaikhli, Associated Students of WSU Tri-Cities president, will give the graduate greeting, which will be followed by the student address by valedictorian Kylie Chiesa.

Six students were selected to carry gonfalons, which are colorful banners that represent the colleges, based on their academic excellence. Those students include:

• Dennis Bonilla, agricultural, human and natural resource sciences
• Ana Isabel Sandoval Zazueta, arts and sciences
• David Law, business
• Jasmine Gonzalez, education
• Lorraine Seymour, engineering and architecture
• Mercedez Gomez, nursing

WSU Tri-Cities graduating student Kayla Stark will sing the national anthem.

For more information, visit


Media Contacts:

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

RICHLAND, Wash. – Today, on a fitting sunny morning, Washington State University Tri-Cities dedicated its West Building to an individual known to have a matching luminous disposition whose leadership radiated across the state and nation: late WSU President Elson S. Floyd.

Elson Floyd - WSU Tri-Cities

Late WSU President Elson S. Floyd talks with students at WSU Tri-Cities.

WSU Tri-Cities leadership, faculty, staff and community members gathered to say a few words about Floyd as a curtain was lowered to unveil the new building designation as the “Elson S. Floyd building.”

Floyd passed away in June 2015, but many individuals at the ceremony stated that his legacy will live on for years to come through the tremendous initiatives and values that he instilled across the WSU system.

“Elson Floyd established a great legacy for WSU,” Chancellor Keith Moo-Young said at the ceremony. “Elson was a great friend and mentor.”

Floyd, who was also affectionately referred to as E-Flo to the campus community, was known across the state and nation for his passion for increasing access and affordability for higher education and wholly embodying the Cougar spirit. He successfully established the WSU medical school, which now bears his name, research grants tripled, WSU accomplished a $1 billion fundraising campaign and the university completed a variety of major construction projects including WSU Tri-Cities’ Wine Science Center. He also strongly advocated funding support for higher education institutions and at one-time contributed a portion of his salary toward scholarships during a time of recession.

Elson S Floyd building dedication - May 2017

The official sign is unveiled for the Elson S. Floyd building dedication.

“It has been almost two years since his passing, but the fact that we’re doing this makes a tremendous impact,” Moo-Young said. “We’re always going to be able to shed light on the great things that Floyd has done for this university and for higher education.”

Jana Kay, a coordinator for academic affairs who worked with Floyd throughout the years when he would come to WSU Tri-Cities, grew to know Floyd as a friend. She said the three tenants that he regarded as essential for the WSU system, which included accountability, affordability and access, weren’t just words to Floyd.

“He believed that all students should be able to go to college and afford it, and he truly expected the campuses to serve their communities,” she said. “When he came to the Tri-Cities, he always made time to meet with students and you could see that is where he got his energy … I can’t think of a more fitting tribute to President Floyd than having his name at the main entrance to campus.”

The idea for renaming the West Building as the Elson S. Floyd building came from Mark Mansperger, clinical associate professor of anthropology, who recommended it to campus leadership after Floyd’s passing.

Elson S Floyd building

Elson S. Floyd building at WSU Tri-Cities

“One of the things that I remember most about President Floyd was the professionalism that he always showed,” he said. “I’m really glad to see this name change in his honor.”

Although Floyd’s family could not be in attendance at the ceremony, Floyd’s wife, Carmento, wrote a letter to the WSU and overall Tri-Cities community to be shared.

“While I am unable to be with you this morning, please know that the Floyd family and I are grateful that you have chosen to honor and memorialize Elson in this extremely special manner,” she said. “He saw greatness here at Washington State University Tri-Cities and he wanted the entire WSU family, this community, the state and the world to realize the impact you are having in the world and the lives you are changing daily through your work.”

“He was proud of Chancellor Moo-Young and the leadership he, his faculty and staff were providing,” she said. “This endeavor to rename and dedicate the West Building to the Elson S. Floyd Building is the highest honor you can bestow in memory of Elson. It fills my heart with pride and enormous gratitude. I know that his spirit and huge smile are with you today, as is mine.”

RICHLAND, Wash. – Several students and student organizations were awarded for their leadership, involvement and overall activism during the annual Washington State University Tri-Cities Evening of Excellence.

Evening of Excellence student award winnersThe purpose of the event is to celebrate student accomplishments from throughout the past academic year, as well as recognize students and their mentors who went above and beyond in their educational service.

This year’s awards went to:

  • Unsung Hero: Catalina Le
  • Rising Star: Zachary Harper
  • Student Leader of the Year: Nikita Fisenko
  • Advisor of the Year: Mariella Lora
  • Chancellor’s Award: Alexander Matlock
  • Organization of the year: Dreamers Club
  • Most Improved Organization: Women’s Club Soccer
  • Program of the Year: Multicultural Night
  • Student Employee of the Year: Monique Van Sant
  • ASWSUTC Legacy Award: Maria Rodriguez
  • ASWSUTC Innovation Award: Adriana McKinney
  • AWSUTC Bridge Award: Ana Isabel Sandoval Zazueta
  • ASWSUTC Rock Award: Nikita Fisenko
  • ASWSUTC Perseverance Award: Susana Butterworth

View and download photos from the event at


Danielle Kleist, WSU Tri-Cities director of student life, 509-372-7104,

Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities public relations specialist, 509-372-7333,

RICHLAND, Wash. – Students will deliver presentations on their research, classroom projects and art noon-1 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday, May 2-4, as part of the Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition at Washington State University Tri-Cities.

WSU Tri-Cities Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition

WSU Tri-Cities Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition

The public is invited to hear presentations, explore topics, ask questions and give feedback.

“Our undergraduates have opportunities to engage in hands-on experiences with research, scholarship and creative works throughout their undergraduate careers, starting with freshman survey courses through senior capstone projects,” said Allison Matthews, WSU Tri-Cities clinical assistant professor of psychology. “The Undergraduate Research Symposium and Art Exhibition highlights their accomplishments in discovery and advancing knowledge.”

Some of the projects that will be featured include:

  • Nondestructive nuclear inspection robot
  • SAE Aero Design – electric airplane
  • Solar Mushroom Dryer – one of three projects that will be implemented in Uganda
  • Social Problems and Service Learning
  • Freshwater Invertebrates from the Columbia Basin
  • Bioinformatic Approaches Further Research for Ovarian Cancer
  • Cinema Verite
  • Digital imaging

The sessions will be in Consolidated Information Center, Room 120, with Thursday’s presentations also in the Art Gallery. 

Disciplines covered will include the sciences, digital technology and culture, fine arts, English, history, political science, engineering, psychology, statistics and exploration and leadership.

RICHLAND, Wash. – A team from Washington State University Tri-Cities whose business plan is to commercialize a WSU-patented jet fuel technology developed by WSU Tri-Cities professor Bin Yang’s lab has advanced to the University of Washington Business Plan Competition’s “sweet 16” round.

Libing Zhang presents during the UW Business Plan Competition

WSU Tri-Cities’ Libing Zhang presents during the UW Business Plan Competition

According to the university website, the goal of the UW Business Plan Competition is to promote student ideas and new venture creation and provide an opportunity for business and science students to present new business plans to Seattle-area venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and investors.

The team, composed of Libing Zhang, a recent doctoral alumna, and master’s in business administration students Manuel Seubert and Taylor Pate, presented the process of taking lignin, a waste product in the cellulosic ethanol biorefineries and pulping process that is considered one of the most abundant renewable carbon sources on Earth, and turning it into an environmentally-friendly, cheap jet fuel that can potentially reduce the carbon emissions for commercial airlines.

The WSU Tri-Cities team advanced from an initial pool of 82 teams in the screening round of the competition, which was then narrowed to a pool of 36 teams in the investment round before the team advanced to the sweet 16. During the investment round, each team had approximately four hours of face time with entrepreneurs, angel investors, venture capitalists and competition alumni from the Seattle area.

Last month, the same WSU Tri-Cities team placed third at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge. Zhang is also the entrepreneurial lead on a National Science Foundation I-Corps lignin-to-biojetfuel project, which was awarded to Yang and his team.

Paul Skilton, WSU Tri-Cities associate professor of management, and Yang are advisers for the WSU Tri-Cities team.

The sweet 16 round of the UW Business Plan Competition kicks off May 25, followed by the final round that afternoon. The final round is open to the public. Prizes will be awarded later that evening at the competition dinner at MOHAI in South Lake Union.

RICHLAND, Wash. – WSU Tri-Cities and the U.S. Department of Energy will hold their second lecture as part of a new series on the Hanford Site from 3-4 p.m. Thursday, April 27, in the East Auditorium on campus. This presentation will focus on the Hanford Site’s radioactive tank waste, which has become the site’s greatest challenge.

Single- and double-shell tanks
river protection logo Sahid Smith, lead engineer for the Low-Activity Waste Pretreatment System Project at the DOE Office of River Protection, will deliver the lecture. His lecture will cover how the single and double-shell radioactive waste tanks were constructed, in addition to the complex combination of 56 million gallons of radioactive and chemical waste taking the physical form of sludge, salts and liquids that all have varying combinations of chemical properties.

Smith began his DOE career at the Richland Operations Office in 2007 as a general engineer, where he worked on the K-Basin Closure Project focusing primarily on the Sludge Treatment Project. He completed several rotational assignments in the Environmental Management Professional Development Corps Program in 2008, including assignments at the Oak Ridge Operation Office and Environmental Management Headquarters. Smith joined DOE’s Office of River Protection in October 2014. He holds a bachelor’s degree and a doctorate in chemical engineering from Florida A&M University.

Linking to DOE

The DOE and its contractors are actively recruiting interns and staff in a broad scope of professional and technical jobs. Linking DOE operations with faculty, students and the community, this series focuses on opportunities and key challenges to be solved by today’s and tomorrow’s workers.

The lecture will be broadcast live at WSU Pullman, WSU Vancouver, WSU North Puget Sound at Everett and WSU Spokane via the campus AMS video streaming service.


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RICHLAND, Wash. – Don Miller, CEO of Gesa Credit Union, will be honored with Washington State University Tri-Cities’ Distinguished Alumnus of the Year Award in recognition of his service, career achievements and dedication to the promotion of educational excellence.

Miller will be presented with the award during the 2017 WSU Tri-Cities commencement ceremony at 1 p.m. Saturday, May 6, at the Toyota Center in Kennewick, Wash.

Growing as a professional and as an individual

He grew up on a farm where he learned about long hours, hard work and pitching in to help where needed to get the job done. In high school, he built and managed his own small herd of cattle while juggling his regular school work and other activities.  Managing that venture led to his interest in business and management.

WSU Tri-Cities Distinguished Alumnus Don Miller

WSU Tri-Cities Distinguished Alumnus Don Miller

“That’s really where I started to develop a liking for business and management,” Miller said. “But it would take me a few years to actually head in the direction, professionally.”

As an undergraduate student, he took classes in nearly every subject, often tackling large quarterly class loads at Central Washington University to try and identify what he was passionate about pursuing as a career. Ultimately, he decided on finance and graduated with his bachelor’s from CWU in 1987. Shortly following graduation, he accepted a job at Gesa Credit Union as a junior accountant.

Miller decided to pursue a master’s in business administration from WSU Tri-Cities a few years later because he knew it would not only expand his knowledge and skill in the finance world, but it would also help him develop as a leader. He felt the degree would also better position him to potentially become a CEO of an organization. He graduated with his MBA from WSU Tri-Cities in 1993.

“I worked with so many smart and talented people through the WSU Tri-Cities MBA program,” he said. “I appreciated having the opportunity to work with people of such high caliber who all brought such a diverse range of experience to the table. It was definitely a very knowledgeable and mature group.”

From there, Miller continued to work his way up within the organization and in 2006, received his first chance at a position as CEO with Gesa. The position went to another individual from outside the organization, however, the new CEO was very open to expanding Miller’s job-related experience.

“I worked for her, and she gave me opportunities to build the experience I needed to one-day take on the position of CEO of an organization,” he said. “She told me, ‘If you want to be CEO, I will help you fill those gaps.’ And she did.”

In late 2013, after serving as Gesa’s interim CEO for nearly six months, he took on the full role.

Service to community

Gesa CEO Don Miller (right) was recently named the WSU Tri-Cities Distinguished Alumnus.

Gesa CEO Don Miller (right) was recently named the WSU Tri-Cities Distinguished Alumnus.

Throughout his years of professional growth, Miller has dedicated himself to improving opportunities for up-and-coming professionals. He has taken on mentorship roles for individuals, helped coach his children’s youth sports and participated in church-related activities. Miller said he and Gesa are committed to promoting financial literacy and education.  Currently, he serves on the board for Junior Achievement of Washington in the Tri-Cities.

“I think it’s very important to give back to the community that has supported your own success,” he said. “It’s also important to learn that no person is ever too important for any role. I learned early in life and in my career that, especially within smaller organizations, everyone wears a lot of hats and that you should appreciate everyone’s contributions.”

Miller said he recommends that people define what their own idea of success is and run with it.

“There are always going to be people who are smarter and better than you, but it is important that you recognize and appreciate that fact and not let it intimidate you,” he said.

Miller said people are going to make mistakes in life and in work, but that the important thing is that individuals don’t overemphasize those mistakes, and instead, own them and find a way to overcome and learn from those experiences.

Miller said he also recommends that people challenge themselves in asking the right questions.

“As you a grow as a professional, you learn to ask better and better questions,” he said. “A lot of people are not willing to ask the questions.

RICHLAND, Wash. – Washington State University Tri-Cities will dedicate its West Building in honor of late WSU President Elson S. Floyd during a ceremony at 10 a.m. Wednesday, May 3, outside the front entrance to the building.

The structure, to be known as the “Elson S. Floyd Building,” also will display a sign in Floyd’s honor.

As part of the ceremony, WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor Keith Moo-Young will remark on Floyd’s many accomplishments at WSU and the influence that he bestowed on WSU systemwide.

“President Elson Floyd led many tremendous initiatives for Washington State University and his legacy will live on for years to come through the light he shown on students, WSU employees and community members around the nation,” Moo-Young said. “He lived the Cougar spirit and was beloved by many. We are thrilled to honor him and his family by dedicating one of our buildings in his honor.”

West Building

WSU Tri-Cities’ currently named West Building will be dedicated on May 3 as the Elson S. Floyd Building in honor of the late WSU president.

The idea for the renaming of the building was presented by Mark Mansperger, clinical associate professor of anthropology, as a means to honor Floyd’s legacy at WSU, and specifically his contributions to WSU Tri-Cities.

Karina Barajas, WSU Tri-Cities principal assistant who also worked directly with Floyd for a time in Pullman, said Floyd’s leadership was evident across the WSU system.

“He was everything I pictured a great leader to be – a man of stature, he would walk into a room and you could easily see and feel the love he had for WSU and for all of us Cougs as students and as employees,” she said. “I am grateful I had the opportunity to serve under his leadership.”

Following the dedication ceremony, light refreshments will be available for those attending. Both the ceremony and reception are open to the public.


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