- Associated Press - Friday, March 25, 2016

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Dr. Kirk Schulz, head of Kansas State University, will become the 11th president of Washington State University, the Board of Regents announced Friday after making the decision at a meeting in Richland.

The regents were presented with three finalists to replace President Elson Floyd, who died in June. They unanimously voted to extend an offer of employment to Schulz, who has been president of Kansas State since 2009.

Schulz is expected to visit Pullman next week.

“I am pleased that Washington State University has found a dynamic leader to guide them through the next phase of research, growth and student achievement,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said.

The names of the other two finalists were not revealed.

Schulz, 52, is a Virginia native who graduated in 1991 from Virginia Tech with a doctorate in chemical engineering. He worked as a professor at the University of North Dakota, Michigan State and Mississippi State.

“He has been a phenomenal leader,” said Shane Bangerter, chairman of the Kansas Board of Regents. “His ability to fund-raise and the projects he has been able to accomplish will definitely be a lasting legacy for him.”

Schulz told the Kansas State community that he will remain as president through mid-May before transitioning to Washington State.

“Noel and I have thoroughly enjoyed our seven years at Kansas State,” Schulz wrote, mentioning his wife. “It has been an exciting time to be a Wildcat and a part of the K-State family.”

Schulz will now negotiate his new contract, which must be approved by the WSU Board of Regents.

Kansas State and Washington State are both large land-grant universities located in small cities, with major sports programs. Schulz is chair of the NCAA board of governors, the athletic association’s highest-ranking decision-making body.

Provost Daniel Bernardo has been acting president of WSU.

The popular Floyd died of complications from colon cancer at 59. He created a new medical school at WSU-Spokane that will be named for him.

The university initially reached out to some 200 people for the job and then whittled that list to eight prospects before the final cut was made to three finalists, Worthy said.

The search committee decided early it would not release candidates’ names, even at the finalist level. That decision was intended to attract quality applicants without placing their careers at risk. Some faculty members have criticized the secrecy and lack of on-campus interviews.

The regents said Noel Schulz will be offered a job as an engineering professor at the school.

Washington State University is based in Pullman and has branch campuses in Vancouver, Richland, Spokane and Everett. The system has about 29,000 students.

Kansas State has about 24,000 students. Schulz is also a professor of chemical engineering at Kansas State.

During his tenure, Kansas State climbed from the “very high research activity” classification in 2010 to the “highest research activity” in 2015 in rankings by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, Washington State University said.

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AP writer Roxana Hegeman in Wichita, Kansas, contributed to this report.

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