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WSU Spokane Celebrates 25 Years With History, Cocktail Hour

Paige Browning
Spokane Public Radio

25 years ago, downtown Spokane’s east-side wasn’t more than railroad tracks and dirt. Today, the 48 acre lot is home to thousands of college students and eight academic buildings. This week, WSU-Spokane celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Cougars began at the Riverpoint campus in the 1990’s, with classes in education, engineering, criminal justice, nutrition, speech pathology, and others. But school spokesperson Terren Roloff says the campus has turned its focus to health.

Roloff:  “And we now have three colleges headquartered here, the colleges of pharmacy, nursing, and the newest, medical sciences. That’s really unique for urban campuses. The other urban campuses that are in Tri Cities and Vancouver are more undergraduate programs, they don’t have any colleges located there.”

Locating a college in the downtown core has the effect of a rock hitting a pond. That’s according to a 2013 economic report from the firm Tripp Umbach. Project manager Anne Marie Axworthy at Greater Spokane Incorporated says the impacts stem from the health sciences education.

Axworthy: “Certainly does increase the attraction from outside the region, from a lot of different reasons. Whether it’s physicians who want to practice here, to researchers that want to be here, to businesses that want to locate here. It’s definitely all related to that.”

About 3,000 students, nearly half of them Cougars, attend school at Spokane’s Riverpoint campus. According to Roloff, its pure coincidence that the school announced plans to develop a full medical school during it’s 25th anniversary.  WSU-Spokane’s celebration is Thursday from five-to-seven, with speeches from school president Elson Floyd and WSU Spokane chancellor Lisa Brown. There will be beer and wine from Cougar-owned businesses, and a visit from Butch the mascot. School tours begin at 4:00. 

Copyright 2014 Spokane Public Radio