Washington State University President Elson Floyd died Saturday at age 59. WSU announced in early June that Floyd was stepping away from his duties because he had cancer.
Floyd started his term as WSU president in 2007 with a 39-county tour of Washington. That winter he was bound for Island County. Current acting president Dan Bernardo recalled Saturday that Floyd glanced at the rain as it whipped across the air and made a memorable order to his staff: To stay behind as he got on a ferry alone.
Bernardo said that was typical of a man whom he remembers as having "led from the front." Bernardo said when the university was considering a $600 million fundraising campaign Floyd upped it to $1 billion.
Under Floyd's tenure WSU grounds expanded with massive science buildings, dormitories and new facilities at branch campuses like Spokane and the Tri-Cities.
A crowning achievement in Floyd's presidency was winning approval from the legislature to let WSU develop a medical school in Spokane, laying the path for WSU to become the second school in the state to offer doctor of medicine degrees. His family has suggested memorial gifts be made to the Elson S. Floyd Founders' Fund for the WSU College of Medical Sciences.
WSU students called the tenth president by a nickname that reflected his charisma and popularity on campus: E-Flo.
Floyd died in Pullman, Washington, at Pullman Regional Hospital.