Washington State University: WSU Pullman celebrates inauguration of its first chancellor


More than 200 people filled the Bryan Hall Auditorium Thursday afternoon for the inauguration of WSU Pullman’s first-ever chancellor, Elizabeth Chilton.

Chilton first joined WSU in June 2020 as provost and executive vice president. She recalled to the audience that she accepted the role without setting foot in Eastern Washington, but was immediately welcomed with support from the university and Pullman communities.

“I look forward to working with all of my colleagues to support a warm and inclusive community and a sense of lifelong belonging,” Chilton said.

Chilton came to WSU after serving as dean of the Harpur College of Arts and Sciences at Binghamton University in New York. Prior to her time as dean, she spent 16 years as a professor and leader at the University of Massachusetts, which included stints as anthropology chair and associate vice chancellor for research and engagement.

In her remarks, Chilton recalled her family’s passion for education, which drove Chilton and her siblings to pursue opportunities for her education that her parents weren’t able to pursue. Getting her academic start at a land grant institution fostered a passion for supporting public universities, as she saw first-hand how they were able to benefit the lives of scholars as well as the surrounding communities.

The inauguration celebration kicked off with an acknowledgement of WSU Pullman’s presence on the homelands of the Nimiipuu (Nez Perce) Tribe and Palus people by Zoe Higheagle Strong, vice provost for Native American relations and programs and tribal liaison to the university president. Higheagle Strong, a member of the Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) Tribe, told attendees she was inspired by the humility and care shown by Chilton during her time at WSU.

“Elizabeth genuinely cares about equity, justice and excellence, and we are in good hands here in Pullman,” Higheagle Strong said.

Marty Dickinson, chair of the WSU Board of Regents, said that the university was honored and fortunate to have Chilton leading WSU Pullman. Dickinson said Chilton recognizes the value of the bond between WSU’s campuses across the state while also being poised to lead WSU Pullman and expand upon the things that make it the flagship campus of the system.

“You have demonstrated with great intention that this is your home and that this is where you want to be,” Dickinson said.

WSU President Kirk Schulz noted that when the university was conducting assessments of its system, leaders saw opportunities for Pullman to grow with its own chancellor. Chilton was the right leader to take on a new role and set the tone for the leader of the WSU Pullman campus and support the surrounding communities.

“This campus, our flagship, and Elizabeth, have a renewed opportunity to create an identity that supports the needs of Pullman,” Schulz said.

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