History of the WSU Vancouver campus

An abbreviated history of WSU Vancouver.

Washington State University Vancouver is located on the homelands of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and Peoples of the Lower Columbia Valley. The land that WSU Vancouver resides on continues to be integral to the lives and cultures of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and People of the Lower Columbia Valley, their descendants, and that history is tied to this land since time immemorial.


Insight Into Diversity magazine, the oldest and largest diversity-focused publication in higher education, recognized WSU Vancouver with a Higher Education Excellence in Diversity Award for the second time. The award recognizes U.S. colleges and universities that demonstrate an outstanding commitment to diversity and inclusion.


WSU Vancouver was awarded two Talent Search Grants totaling $2.75 million over a five-year grant cycle. Talent Search is a U.S. Department of Education TRIO program that identifies and assists middle and high school students who have the potential but not necessarily the means to participate in higher education


Faculty, staff and students returned to campus in person in August as COVID-19 vaccines were widely available. The campus celebrated the groundbreaking for the Life Sciences Building in November.


WSU Vancouver abruptly changed all classes to distance delivery and nearly shutdown the physical campus after spring break in March in response to the COVID-19 global pandemic.


A rare corpse flower housed at WSU Vancouver bloomed for its first time.


Commencement was livestreamed for the first time to accommodate out-of-area and homebound family members and friends.


WSU Vancouver Health Services opened offering students basic health care services on campus.


WSU Vancouver developed and launched the 2016 – 2021 strategic plan. It identified five goals: research, student success, growth, equity and diversity, and community.


The Carson College of Business Center for Student Success was opened.


WSU Vancouver celebrated its 25th anniversary.


As a result of a student-led effort, WSU Vancouver became a tobacco-free campus.


Emile "Mel" Netzhammer joined WSU Vancouver as its second Chancellor.


Founding Chancellor H.A. Hal Dengerink retired. He was given the title Chancellor Emeritus and the Administration building was renamed the Dengerink Administration Building in his honor.


WSU Vancouver was the first urban site in Southwest Washington to earn Salmon-Safe certification, a designation that means the university is proactively and significantly improving the environmental health of its 351-acre property.


The Undergraduate Building was completed. It was the first WSU facility to be awarded LEED Gold Certification.


The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Foundation gave $1.5 million to expand the Child Development Program.


The Firstenburg Student Commons was dedicated to the student body.


WSU Vancouver welcomed its first freshman class.


Ed and Mary Firstenburg became WSU Vancouver’s first Laureate donors. The Firstenburg Student Commons was named for them in recognition of their generosity.


The School of Engineering and Computer Science became WSU Vancouver's first independently accredited school.


“Pillars of Fulfillment,” a sculpture by Women Who Weld celebrating the life of Lori Irving, beloved assistant professor of psychology, was dedicated.


The Firstenburg Family Fountain was completed. It’s the only fountain in the WSU system.


The first commencement at the Salmon Creek site was held outdoors on campus.


The new WSU Vancouver campus was dedicated on June 28, 1996.


WSU Vancouver broke ground on the Salmon Creek site.


WSU Vancouver was one of the first institutions in the country to use Interactive Electronic Classrooms (classes simulcast via video).


The Salmon Creek site was purchased as the permanent home for WSU Vancouver.


At the first WSU Vancouver commencement, 38 graduates received degrees.


On May 10, 1989, the Washington State Legislature formally established WSU Vancouver as one of four campuses that make up the WSU system.