- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 23, 2015

SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) - Support is growing to name the new Washington State University medical school for Elson Floyd, the school president who died last weekend of complications from colon cancer.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner said he will introduce a bill this week to name the new medical school for Floyd.

Baumgartner, a Republican from Spokane, said Floyd was instrumental in pushing the proposal through the Legislature, making a compelling case that the state needed a second public medical school.

Washington State students have already launched a Facebook campaign to name the Spokane-based medical school for Floyd, Baumgartner noted.

“Naming the school for Elson Floyd is a fitting tribute for the man who did so much to create it,” Baumgartner said Monday. “Even as he suffered from the disease that would take his life, Dr. Floyd was a tireless advocate for the project.”

Meanwhile, Washington State University on Tuesday announced the creation of the Dr. Elson S. Floyd Medical Education Founders Fund.

Established in accordance with the Floyd family’s wishes, the new fund will support the accreditation and operation of the new College of Medicine.

“Washington State University would not be starting a medical school today without the vision and leadership of President Elson S. Floyd,” said John Gardner, WSU vice president for advancement. “From humble roots in rural North Carolina, he transcended race, class, and politics throughout his life.”

Floyd considered the pursuit of a medical school a key part of WSU’s responsibility to serve the needs of the citizens, industries and communities across the state.

“Now is the time to address the physician shortage confronting a great many communities in our state,” Floyd said last fall.

The University of Washington in Seattle operates the state’s only public medical school, and also educates medical students under agreements with Alaska, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.

Floyd, 59, was the 10th president of Washington State University and the first black leader of the Pullman-based school.

As president from 2007 to 2015, he transformed WSU. Enrollment grew to record highs and the number who self-identified as students of color nearly doubled.

Annual research expenditures grew by nearly 58 percent from approximately $213 million to more than $336 million, placing WSU in the top 11 percent of public universities for research funding.

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