Skip to main content Skip to navigation
WSU Commencement Ceremonies A new WSU WordPress website


Spring 2016 Speaker

Phyllis J. Campbell Chairman, Pacific Northwest

Phyllis Campbell is the Chairman, Pacific Northwest for JPMorgan Chase & Co. She is the firm’s senior executive in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho across businesses, representing JPMorgan Chase & Co. at the most senior level to clients.

Previously, Phyllis served as the President/CEO of The Seattle Foundation, the largest community foundation in Washington. During her tenure, the Foundation doubled in charitable assets, to $600 million. Prior to that, Phyllis was the President/CEO of U.S. Bank of Washington for over six years.  Under her leadership, the Bank doubled in size, through customer-focused growth initiatives and acquisitions.

Phyllis has a proven track record of board service, both in the for profit and not-for-profit sectors. She is the lead independent director for Alaska Air Group, a NYSE listed company. She serves on the Nordstrom board of directors and chaired the Audit Committee for seven years. She currently serves on the Diversity Advisory Board (DAB) of Toyota. Phyllis is on the nonprofit boards of PATH, the US-Japan Council, and the global advisory board of Women Corporate Directors (WCD), among others. She is a member of the NACD Governance National Advisory Council. She is a frequently requested speaker on governance, audit and risk-related topics and has spoken at a number of global conferences.

Her awards have included the following: In 2015, she was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award by Seattle Business Magazine and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Vision from the Mountaintop Award.  She also was the Pinnacle Award recipient of the 2015 Outstanding 50 Asian Americans in Business Awards.  In 2014, she was recognized by the National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) as a “Top 100” Director, as chosen by a committee of her peers and The Ascend/Deloitte Inspirational Award. She was the inaugural NACD Director of the Year Award from the Pacific Northwest chapter, Top Women in Finance Award from Women of Color Magazine in 2010 and Woman Who Makes A Difference Award from the International Women’s Forum. She was also awarded the 36th Regents’ Distinguished Alumnus Award from Washington State University.

Phyllis holds an M.B.A. from the University of Washington’s Executive MBA Program, a B.A. in Business Administration from Washington State University, and is a graduate of the Pacific Coast Banking School at the University of Washington, as well as Stanford University’s Executive Management Program. Phyllis also holds honorary doctorates from Whitworth University and Gonzaga University.

Fall 2015 Speaker



Max Baer is proud to be a member of the Washington State University Class of 2015. To say that he bleeds Crimson and Gray is an understatement. He decided in 8th grade that he would be a Coug. Graduating Kentridge High School (Renton, WA) in June 2011, he headed off to Pullman and began his college career. He made his freshman home in room 409 Perham, part of the legendary Jungle.

Towards the end of his freshman year, he tried out for and earned the best job on campus: Butch T. Cougar. Being the mascot for a school with incredible school spirit for three years was an amazing opportunity and tremendous honor. Max became Butch and reveled in the opportunity afforded him. He dedicated himself to carrying on the tradition: he walked the walk, he prowled the pregame, he led the cheers. As Butch T. Cougar, Max attended hundreds of events including home sporting competitions, campus tours, weddings, parades, grand openings, and birthday parties.  Max also traveled to football games and basketball tournaments. He appeared on television in ESPN commercials and public service announcements.

The Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) annually ranks the top twenty-five mascots in the nation. The judging process considers video footage in addition to a live competition held in Disneyworld.  During his tenure as Butch, Max brought the program from unranked to an impressive eighth place finish during his final year.

Max respected the tradition of keeping his identity a secret. Only a select few people knew of his role before his public unveiling at the final home men’s basketball game this past March. He continued with the program after his unveiling; he became the assistant mascot coach and feels confident in the abilities of his successor. The Butch T. Cougar legacy is in good paws.

In his human form, Max is a member of the Class of 2015, graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Economics, and is an avid martial artist. He has experience in Muay Thai, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Kali, and Jeet Kune Do. He played a key role in opening the Martial Arts Training Academy in Pullman and helped Jeff Kelley, head instructor at MATA, train for a professional fight in Hong Kong.


Spring 2015 Speakers

Dr. Geoffrey Gamble – 8AM

Dr. Geoffrey Gamble, who retired in 2009, currently is President Emeritus and Professor Emeritus at Montana State University and is teaching linguistics courses in the Anthropology department. From 2011 to 2014 he served in various roles at the University of North Texas including, Vice President for Strategy and Operations, Vice President for Research and Economic Development, and Senior Vice Provost.

Gamble became the 11th president of Montana State University in December of 2000. Prior to Montana State, Gamble was the Provost and Senior Vice President at the University of Vermont and served as chief academic and operating officer. As such, he was responsible for the annual budget, operations of academic colleges (including the College of Medicine) and academic/support units, institutional planning, and provided interface and staff support for the UVM Board of Trustees.

Prior to his service at the University of Vermont, Gamble was at Washington State University where he rose through the ranks to professor of anthropology. During his tenure at WSU, Gamble served as interim Provost for one year, Vice Provost for five years, and held other administrative posts including Department Chair, Director of the Museum of Anthropology, and Director of Summer Session.

Gamble is the author of two books and a dozen articles on Native American languages and has presented numerous scholarly papers. He is currently completing a dictionary of the Wikchamni language. He has won grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities as well as other organizations and has received service awards from the State of Washington, WSU, the State of Montana, and MSU.

Geoffrey Gamble holds a B.A. in English from Fresno State College, an M.A. in Linguistics from California State University, Fresno and a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of California, Berkeley. He spent a year as a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institute.


Brad Tilden, Chief Executive Officer of Alaska Air Group – 11:30AM

Brad Tilden is the chief executive officer of Alaska Air Group and its two subsidiaries, Alaska Airlines, the nation’s sixth-largest carrier, and Horizon Air, its regional affiliate.  The two airlines employ nearly 13,000 people and fly more than 180 aircraft to some 100 destinations throughout the United States, Canada and Mexico.  Alaska was recently added to the Fortune 500.

Under the leadership of Tilden and his team, Air Group’s focus is on providing industry-leading customer service, offering low fares, steadily growing its route network, making Alaska and Horizon the easiest airlines to fly, and building a sense of teamwork and alignment among its employees.  Alaska’s people earned recognition for ranking highest in customer service among traditional carriers for seven consecutive years by J.D. Power & Associates, ranked No. 1 in on-time performance for four consecutive years by, and received other honors for their philanthropy, community service and environmental stewardship.  In 2013, the International Council on Clean Transportation named Alaska the most fuel-efficient airline in the United States. In addition to these achievements, Alaska Air Group become one of the nation’s most profitable airlines.

Tilden previously served as president, executive vice president of finance and planning, chief financial officer, and corporate controller of Alaska Air Group or Alaska Airlines.  Before joining the company in 1991, he spent eight years with the accounting firm Price Waterhouse in its offices in Seattle and Melbourne, Australia.

Tilden earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Pacific Lutheran University and an executive master’s degree in business administration from the University of Washington.  He also holds a private pilot’s license with an instrument rating.

Tilden serves on the boards of Pacific Lutheran University, the Boy Scouts of America and the Washington Roundtable (where he is vice chair).  He recently completed a term as president of the Chief Seattle Council of the Boy Scouts of America.

Introduced to aviation early in life, Tilden grew up a few miles from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where he loved to watch Alaska jets take off and land.  A resident of Seattle, he is married and has three daughters.  In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoys cycling and flying his Cessna 182.

Dr. Mimi Healy, President & CEO of Lasergen, Inc. – 3PM

Dr. Healy is currently the President & CEO of Lasergen, a start-up biotechnology company focused on developing chemistries for next-generation sequencing and cutting-edge medical diagnostics.  She leads all aspects of strategy and implementation, corporate finance and fundraising, and product development from research to clinical validation. The company is now in late-stage development of a system that is anticipated to aid in lowering the cost and increasing the accessibility of personalized medicine, particularly in the area of reproductive health and oncology.

Prior to her role at Lasergen, she joined Bacterial Barcodes as Chief Scientific Officer.  With an interest in combating deadly hospital-acquired infections, she developed a system combining molecular biology, instrumentation and introduced a novelty to the clinical market; web-based software for a medical diagnostic system.  Promoted to CEO, she secured financing, and drove international commercialization, culminating in a profitable exit via acquisition by a billion-dollar healthcare company. She then led the transition of the product line which included world-wide responsibilities and an appreciation for other countries’ healthcare systems.  Dr. Healy’s experience includes several positions as a developmental scientist and managing product commercialization in startup biotech companies. Her career began with an industrial post-doc position where much of her training took place in Belgium.

Dr. Healy was raised in Kirkland, Washington and spent her youth riding horses, playing sports and participating in 4-H clubs. She spent much of her career traveling and now resides in Texas.  She appreciates both the experience and the education she received from WSU, which has served her well on a successful journey including a non-traditional role as a scientist, executive, and woman CEO in the biotechnology industry.

She serves on several grant review boards and academic advisory committees, has published in various scientific journals, authored multiple book chapters and is an inventor on several patents. Dr. Healy holds a B.S. in Biology with a minor in Chemistry, and B.A. in Psychology of Industry and Organizations from Central Washington University.  She received her M.S. in Biology and Ph.D. in Microbiology from Washington State University.


Fall 2014 Speaker

Jordan Schnitzer

Native Oregonian Jordan Schnitzer grew up in Portland attending Ainsworth Grade School and Catlin Gable High School. He is a 1973 graduate of the University of Oregon and in 1976 received his doctorate degree from Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College.

Shortly thereafter, Jordan began working full time at his family’s real estate company, Harsch Investment Properties, a Portland based Real Estate Acquisition, Development and Management Company started by his father and mother in 1950.  He is now the President of the company with regional offices located in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Las Vegas and San Diego and oversees a portfolio of office, industrial, retail and multifamily properties.  With a staff of over 200 professionals, Jordan has built Harsch into one of the largest privately held real estate property and management companies in the Western United States.

In addition to his role as CEO at Harsch, Jordan has served on over 31 civic and cultural boards including the Portland Art Museum, the Japanese Garden Society of Oregon, the High Desert Museum, the Citizen Crime Commission and the Friends of Astoria Column to name a few.

Following his family’s commitment to support art and culture, Jordan has created one of the nation’s largest contemporary print collections, which is shared with the public.  He and his family foundation have funded and organized over 90 exhibitions of work from his collection which has traveled to over 60 museums including exhibitions at the Portland Art Museum, the Bellevue Art Museum, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Legion of Honor Museum in San Francisco, the Detroit Institute of Art and many others.

Jordan has received many honors and awards including the Portland State University President’s Award for Outstanding Philanthropy, State of Oregon Governor Arts Awards, Volunteer of America Oregon DePreist Award for Excellence, Catlin Gable Distinguished Alumni Award, and, in addition, the University of Oregon Presidential Medal and the International Print Center in New York Award of Excellence for his Touring Art Program.  He is also very proud of the renovation of the art museum at the University of Oregon which was renamed in his honor in 2005.

Jordan lives in Portland with his family.


Spring 2014 Speakers

Orlin Reinbold, Owner of Landmark Turf and Native Seed  – 8am

Orlin Reinbold was raised in Davenport, Washington, on a wheat, cattle, and grass seed farm, and is a third generation Cougar (’73).


His grandfather started one of the first reclamation grass seed companies in 1945 to supply farmers with grass seed for soil conservation. Orlin Reinbold graduated with a BSbachelor’s degree in aAgriculture and his teaching certification. After leaving Pullman, Orlin Reinbold taught Horticulture in Vancouver. Later in his career he managed a large greenhouse operation in Spokane. Orlin Reinbold returned to the family farm and grass seed business, eventually taking over ownership. Under his management, the family regional grass seed business developed into a leading national and international grass seed company.


Orlin Reinbold is currently the owner of Landmark Turf and Native Seed in Spokane, Arkansas Valley Seed in Denver, and Chesapeake Valley Seed in Maryland.

President Elson S. Floyd – 11:30am

Elson S. Floyd became the 10th president of Washington State’s land-grant research university on May 21, 2007. He previously was president of the four-campus University of Missouri for four years and president of Western Michigan University from 1998 to 2003


He began his career in 1978 at theUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he held deanships in the Division of Student Affairs, the General College and the College of Arts and Sciences. From 1988 to 1990, he was assistant vice president for student services for the UNC system office, where he helped develop and articulate student affairs and academic affairs policy for the 16-campus university system.


From 1990 to 1993, Dr. Floyd served as vice president for student services, vice president for administration, and executive vice president at Eastern Washington University. In the latter capacity, he was the university’s chief operating officer. From 1995 to 1998 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the nation’s leading research institutions, where he served as chief administrative and operating officer and the senior official responsible for business and finance; human resources; auxiliary enterprises; student affairs; information technology; university advancement and development; and enrollment management.


A native of Henderson, N.C., Dr. Floyd holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and speech, a master of education degree in adult education, and a doctor of philosophy degree in higher and adult education, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Among other honors, Dr. Floyd is the recipient of the 2005 Communicator of the Year Award, given by the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). He also received the 2004 James C. Kirkpatrick Award given by the Northwest Missouri Press Association for public service. Other honors include the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Dr. Floyd’s former high school, Darlington School, in Georgia.

Katey Koehn, Director of Program Management – 3:00 pm

Katey Koehn is a Director of Program Management at Yahoo, leading a team focused on building technical excellence.  She joined Yahoo in 2010 and in the 10 years prior held positions ranging from Executive Administrative Assistant to Operations Logistics Manager at eBay.  At the beginning of her career she also spent 10 years in retail management.  In 2013, Katey was recognized as one of Yahoo’s top 100 managers, an honor that resulted from the positive upward feedback of her direct reports.


A WSU Global Campus student, Ms. Koehn will join the ranks of the class of 2014 when she earns her B.A. in Social Sciences in May.  Recognized for academic excellence at WSU, she is a member of the Alpha Sigma Llamda National Honor Society and has spent 9 consecutive semesters on the President’s honor roll.  Katey is bursting with school spirit and has created something of a Cougar shrine in her home office in Northern California.  She has waved Ol’ Crimson on College Game Day and made her first trip to Pullman in 2012 for Apple Cup.


Not one to shy away from a challenge, Katey embraces those opportunities that push her beyond her comfort zone.  As a leader, her ultimate goal is to inspire others to face their fears, expand their skills and be on the lookout for the next possibility for success.


Fall 2013 Speaker

President Elson S. Floyd

Elson S. Floyd became the 10th president of Washington State’s land-grant research university on May 21, 2007. He previously was president of the four-campus University of Missouri for four years and president of Western Michigan University from 1998 to 2003

He began his career in 1978 at theUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he held deanships in the Division of Student Affairs, the General College and the College of Arts and Sciences. From 1988 to 1990, he was assistant vice president for student services for the UNC system office, where he helped develop and articulate student affairs and academic affairs policy for the 16-campus university system.

From 1990 to 1993, Dr. Floyd served as vice president for student services, vice president for administration, and executive vice president at Eastern Washington University. In the latter capacity, he was the university’s chief operating officer. From 1995 to 1998 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, one of the nation’s leading research institutions, where he served as chief administrative and operating officer and the senior official responsible for business and finance; human resources; auxiliary enterprises; student affairs; information technology; university advancement and development; and enrollment management.

A native of Henderson, N.C., Dr. Floyd holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science and speech, a master of education degree in adult education, and a doctor of philosophy degree in higher and adult education, all from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Among other honors, Dr. Floyd is the recipient of the 2005 Communicator of the Year Award, given by the Mid-Missouri Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). He also received the 2004 James C. Kirkpatrick Award given by the Northwest Missouri Press Association for public service. Other honors include the 2004 Distinguished Alumnus Award from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill and the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Dr. Floyd’s former high school, Darlington School, in Georgia.


Spring 2013 Speakers

David Ensor – Director, Voice of America

David Ensor was sworn in as the 28th director of the Voice of America on June 16, 2011. As director of VOA, Ensor oversees a worldwide multimedia operation broadcasting in 43 languages, reaching an estimated 134 million people each week via radio, television, mobile devices, and the Internet. He joined VOA after an extensive career in journalism and communications. From 1975 to 1980, Ensor reported for National Public Radio, where he covered the White House, foreign policy, and defense issues. From 1980 to 1998, he was a television correspondent for ABC News, and from 1998 to 2006 he was CNN’s national security correspondent. During his extensive journalism career, he reported on many major international stories. From Moscow, he covered the breakup of the Soviet Union, the end of Communism, two coup attempts, and the first Chechen War. From Warsaw, he covered Lech Walesa and Solidarity. From Rome, he covered Middle Eastern terrorism and the travels of Pope John Paul II. He has reported on armed conflicts in Bosnia, El Salvador, and Afghanistan and traveled by Soviet tank from Jalalabad to Kabul as the Russians began their withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1988. From 2006 through 2009, Ensor was executive vice president for communications and strategy at the Mercuria Energy Group, an international energy trading and investment group. He advised the company’s CEO and board on strategic issues and planned and executed a global communications strategy for the company. From 2010 to 2011, he served as director of communications and public diplomacy at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. Ensor is a member of the U.S. Council on Foreign Relations and is fluent in French, with a basic knowledge of Polish, Russian, and Italian. He is married and has two children.

Roger Myers – Executive Director, Electric Propulsion and Integrated Systems, Aerojet

Dr. Roger Myers is the executive director of electric propulsion and integrated systems at Aerojet. In this role he oversees efforts focused on the strategic planning, development, and production of next-generation chemical and electric space propulsion systems and vehicles. Prior to this appointment in mid-2011, Dr. Myers served as deputy lead of space and launch systems and general manager of Aerojet-Redmond Operations, the world’s leading supplier of spacecraft propulsion systems and components. With over 400 employees, Aerojet-Redmond generates over $100 million in annual sales. Prior to joining Aerojet in 1996, Dr. Myers held various supervisory and research positions at NASA’s Glenn Research Center and Princeton University. He has authored over 70 publications on spacecraft propulsion and advanced mission architectures, was chairman of the AIAA Electric Propulsion Technical Committee from 1998 to 2000, and was an associate editor of the Journal of Propulsion and Power from 1993 to 2008. Dr. Myers also serves on the board of directors of the Electric Rocket Propulsion Society, the Joint Center for Aerospace Technology Innovation, and the GenCorp Foundation, which focuses on STEM education initiatives. He is an AIAA fellow and was elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences in 2012. Dr. Myers earned his doctorate from the department of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Princeton University and a bachelor’s of science degree in aerospace engineering, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan. He and his wife, Trudi, live in Woodinville, Washington.

Sam Sumner Reed – Former Secretary of State, Washington State

Sam Sumner Reed was elected as Washington’s 14th secretary of state in 2000, a post he held until he retired in January 2013. His 45-year career (35 years in elective office) is characterized by his commitment to public service, bipartisanship, and civic education and democracy principles. Secretary Reed served as the Thurston County auditor, a position he was elected to five times, and as assistant secretary of state under A. Ludlow Kramer and Bruce Chapman. He was appointed by Governor Dan Evans to head the Urban Affairs Council (1967- 1969) and the Constitutional Reform Commission (1975-1977) and worked to lower the state voting age from 21 to 18. He is past president of the National Association of Secretaries of State and served as an advisor to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission from 2005 to 2007. Reed received his bachelor’s degree in social studies and his master’s degree in political science from Washington State University. It was from his mentors and professors there, he said, that he gained much of his grounding in political science, history, and politics. He is well known for his handling of Washington’s contested 2004 gubernatorial race, which led to improvements in the state’s voting process. He was honored with a Gonzaga Law Medal for his fair handling of the election and resulting court cases. Also in 2004, Reed launched the nation’s first state government digital archives to rescue disappearing electronic history. He fought and won the battle to save the Washington State Library, the state’s oldest cultural institution. Recently, he was unanimously selected by the YMCA Youth and Government Board as the recipient of the Robert F. Utter Award for servant leadership and commitment to civic engagement for youth. Sam Reed and his wife, Margie, reside in Olympia. They have two adult children, David and Kristen, and two grandchildren.


Fall 2012 Speaker

Kimberlee Kidwell, Ph.D.

Dr. Kidwell joined WSU in the mid-1900s and served as WSU’s spring wheat breeder for 15 years. During that time she developed more than a dozen new varieties. In total, her work has generated more than $60 million per year in farm-gate value for Washington wheat producers.

She also excels as an interpersonal communications coach and innovator. Human Development 205, which was initiated, developed and taught by Kidwell, is one of the most popular classes at WSU. Using hands-on experience and service learning as tools, the course focuses on helping undergraduates transform their classroom education into a skill set that is valuable in life and on the job.

As an administrator, Kidwell has led the college’s efforts to revamp its curriculum to better serve students and to refine the way it measures success. Under her leadership, student recruitment at all levels continues to grow dramatically.

Dr. Kidwell has been has been recognized with numerous honors and awards, including being named the Young Crop Scientist of the Year by the Crop Science Society of America, as well as receiving a Faculty Achievement Award, an Excellence in Teaching Award and a Faculty Award for Distinguished Service Learning from WSU. She holds Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in plant breeding and plant genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as two bachelor’s degrees in genetics and development and agriculture sciences from the University of Illinois, Urbana-champagne.


Spring 2012 Speaker

Governor Chris Gregoire – 8am

Chris Gregoire was raised in Auburn, Washington, by her mother, who worked as a short-order cook to support the family. After graduating from Auburn High School, Chris entered the University of Washington, where she earned a teaching certificate and bachelor of arts degree in speech and sociology. She received her law degree in 1977 from Gonzaga University.

Gregoire was appointed in 1988 to serve as director of the Washington Department of Ecology, where she negotiated the safe cleanup and permanent storage of radioactive wastes at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Elected to office as Attorney General in 1992, Gregoire served for three terms—the first woman to be elected to the position in Washington. She led a statewide program that resulted in a comprehensive reform of the state’s juvenile system, helped pass tougher ethics laws for state government, sought alternatives to litigation for legal disputes, and worked to protect privacy and combat identity theft. Gregoire was the lead negotiator in the groundbreaking settlement of state lawsuits against the tobacco industry.

Chris Gregoire became Washington’s 22nd governor in 2005. She is focused on education, modernizing pension and health care costs, and streamlining government services and delivery. Under her leadership Washington consistently ranks as a top place to do business and raise a family.

Chris Gregoire met her husband, Mike, in September 1971 when they both worked for the Washington Department of Social and Health Services. Chris and Mike have two adult daughters: Courtney, an attorney and Michelle, a law-school student.


Fall 2011 Speaker

Brigadier General Julie Bentz, Ph.D.

Commencement Speech

Julie Bentz is a Director for Strategic Capabilities Policy on the National Security Staff (NSS) for the National Security Council and Homeland Security Council. She is responsible for providing oversight and policy coordination to increase U.S. capability and capacity for the nation’s nuclear defense. This includes writing presidential policy, coordinating interagency dialogue, informing presidential budgetary decisions, and building consensus on interagency initiatives in detection, nuclear forensics and attribution, countering improvised explosive devices, and programs that develop the U.S. technical capability to counter nuclear threats.

Prior to her assignment on the NSS, General Bentz served as the Principal Deputy for Nuclear Defense within the Office of the Deputy Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Matters. Before that, she worked on the Homeland Security Council where she helped to establish a joint domestic nuclear detection office within the Department of Homeland Security and played a key role in developing a whole of government approach to nuclear forensics including the creation of the National Technical Nuclear Forensics Center.

General Bentz is assigned to the NSS from the National Guard Bureau (NGB) and has served in a variety of active, reserve, and National Guard assignments revolving around nuclear defense, homeland security, health physics, environmental sciences, and traditional nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) officer assignments. Dr. Bentz holds a Ph.D. in nuclear engineering from the University of Missouri-Columbia.


Spring 2011 Speakers

Jim Cook – 8am

Washington State University’s dean and Professor Emeritus R. James Cook has a 40 year career span with WSU.

During his very productive professional life he has conducted research on biological and ecological approaches to manage root diseases of Pacific Northwest wheat, 33 of those years with the USDA-Agricultural Research Service (ARS).

From 1998 to 2003 he served as the R. J. Cook Endowed Chair in Wheat Research at WSU, a position endowed with a $1.5 million gift from the Washington Wheat Commission. He also served as interim dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences from 2003 until his retirement in 2005.

In addition to some 200 peer-reviewed journal papers and book chapters, Cook has co-authored two books on biological control of plant pathogens and one on wheat health management.

Cook has been named a Fellow by the Crop Science Society of America, the American Society of Agronomy, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Plant Pathology Society. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has bestowed upon him the Superior Service Award, the Distinguished Service Award, and named him the ARS Distinguished Scientist of the Year and to the ARS Science Hall of Fame. Cook was elected Fellow of the American Phytopathological Society, and also received the society’s highest award, the Award of Distinction, and the Ruth Allen Award. He is a professor emeritus in the department of plant pathology and department of crop soils sciences.

He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1993 and has been selected for the 2011 international Wolf Prize for Agriculture.

Cook currently serves as one of seven citizen trustees on the Board Authority of the State’s Life Sciences Discovery Fund and is president of the Washington State Academy of Sciences.

He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees from North Dakota State University and a doctoral degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Dr. Robert M. Gates – 11:30am

Dr. Robert M. Gates was sworn in on December 18, 2006, as the 22nd Secretary of Defense. Dr. Gates is the only Secretary of Defense in U.S. history to be asked to remain in that office by a newly elected President. President Barack Obama is the eighth president Dr. Gates has served.

Before entering his present post, Dr. Gates was the President of Texas A&M University, the nation’s seventh largest university. Prior to assuming the Texas A&M presidency, on August 1, 2002, he served as Interim Dean of the George Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M from 1999 to 2001.

Secretary Gates joined the Central Intelligence Agency in 1966 and spent nearly 27 years as an intelligence professional. During that period, he spent nearly nine years at the National Security Council, The White House, serving four presidents of both political parties.

Dr. Gates served as Director of Central Intelligence from 1991 until 1993. He is the only career officer in CIA’s history to rise from entry-level employee to Director. He served as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from 1986 until 1989 and as Assistant to the President and Deputy National Security Adviser at the White House from January 20, 1989, until November 6, 1991, for President George H.W. Bush.

Secretary Gates has been awarded the National Security Medal, the Presidential Citizens Medal, has twice received the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, and has three times received CIA’s highest award, the Distinguished Intelligence Medal.

He is the author of the memoir, From the Shadows: The Ultimate Insiders Story of Five Presidents and How They Won the Cold War, published in 1996.

Until becoming Secretary of Defense, Dr. Gates served as Chairman of the Independent Trustees of The Fidelity Funds, the nation’s largest mutual fund company, and on the board of directors of NACCO Industries, Inc., Brinker International, Inc. and Parker Drilling Company, Inc.

Dr. Gates has also served on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of the American Council on Education, the Board of Directors of the National Association of State Universities and Land-Grant Colleges, and the National Executive Board of the Boy Scouts of America. He has also been President of the National Eagle Scout Association.

A native of Kansas, Secretary Gates received his bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary, his master’s degree in history from Indiana University, and his doctorate in Russian and Soviet history from Georgetown University.

In 1967 he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force and served as an intelligence officer at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.

Admiral John S. Redd – 3:00 pm

John Scott Redd was a vice admiral of the United States Navy, and the first Senate-confirmed director of the National Counterterrorism Center, serving from 2005 until 2007.

Redd was born in Sidney, Iowa, and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in the class of 1966. A Trident Scholar, he majored in mathematics and physics and was president of the Naval Academy Class of 1966. Following graduation, he studied as a Fulbright Scholar in Uruguay and as a Burke Scholar, receiving a Master of Science degree in Operations Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School. He also attended the Program for Senior Executives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

During his 36 years of active duty service he commanded eight organizations and served in several senior policy positions in the Pentagon. In 1995, he founded the only new U.S. Navy Fleet in half a century, serving as the first Commander, Fifth Fleet (COMFIFTHFLT) since World War II. His last assignment on active duty was as director of Strategic Plans and Policy (DJ-5) on the Joint Staff. Redd retired from active military service in 1998. Adm. JS Redd

Following his retirement from the Navy he served as CEO of NetSchools Corp., a high-tech start-up company in the education sector. In 2004, Redd was appointed deputy administrator and chief operating officer of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Baghdad, Iraq, where he directed programs for the reconstruction of Iraq’s infrastructure. He was also responsible for policy affecting Iraq’s security programs, including the new Iraqi Army, the Iraqi Civil Defense Corps, Iraqi Border Patrol and Facilities Protection Services. Before retiring in 2007, Redd also served as executive director for the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction, sometimes known as the WMD Intelligence Commission, and as director of the National Counterterrorism Center.

During his career, Redd has also served on the advisory boards of several non-profit organizations. An avid amateur radio operator, Redd has won seven world championships.


Fall 2010 Speaker

Brad Smith

Commencement Speech

Brad Smith is Microsoft’s General Counsel and leads the company’s Department of Legal and Corporate Affairs (LCA), which has 1,000 employees and is responsible for the company’s legal work, its intellectual property portfolio, and its government affairs and philanthropic work. He also serves as Microsoft’s Corporate Secretary and its Chief Compliance Officer. Smith is a member of Microsoft’s 10-person Senior Leadership Team and is the senior executive responsible for the company’s external relations in Washington State.

Smith also serves as Chair of the Washington Roundtable, a leading Washington State business organization, and is chairing the Governor’s Higher Education Funding Task Force. He has led Microsoft’s work to promote state education reform and stronger investments in transportation and other infrastructure. He and his wife are co-chairing the 2010-11 annual campaign for the United Way of King County, the largest United Way campaign in the country. This year’s campaign seeks to raise $25 million for early learning for low income children, the largest charitable fund of its type ever established.

Smith joined Microsoft in 1993, where his first position was in Paris, leading the European Legal and Corporate Affairs Group. Before that he was a partner at the law firm of Covington & Burling, having worked in the firm’s Washington, D.C. and London offices. Smith grew up in Wisconsin and graduated summa cum laude from Princeton University, where he received the Class of 1901 Medal, the Dewitt Clinton Poole Memorial Prize, and the Harold Willis Dodds Achievement Award, the highest award given to a graduating senior at commencement. He was an honors graduate at the Columbia University School of Law, and studied international law and economics at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.


Spring 2010 Speakers

Craig Juntunen – 8am

Entrepreneur, philanthropist and football player Craig Juntunen is familiar with the Palouse, since he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in political science at the University of Idaho, where he was also a quarterback. Mr. Juntunen has played professionally in the Canadian football league and has been inducted into both the University of Idaho Hall of Fame and the Idaho Athletic Hall of Fame.

He later started his business career in Silicon Valley, where he run a human capital company for 18 years. The company employed over 150 people and had four national locations. He sold the business in 1995 and, with his wife Kathi, started the Juntunen Foundation.

In 2003, Craig joined the football staff at Arizona State University as director of player development and assistant to the head coach. Craig Juntunen Family Portrait

As an advocate for international adoption, Mr. Juntunen also founded Chances for Children in 2006, a public foundation dedicated to addressing the orphan epidemic in Haiti. He and his wife have adopted three children from Haiti, Amelec, Esperancia and Quinn, an experience he wrote about in his book “Both Ends Burning”… My story of adopting three children from Haiti.”

Mickey S. Urdea – 11:30am

Mickey Urdea, co-founder, chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Tethys Bioscience, is a WSU alumnus who received his doctoral degree in biochemistry.

In the early 1980s Dr. Urdea was one of the first employees at Chiron, where he directed the nucleic acids chemistry group and began the molecular diagnostics efforts, led the development of quantitative RNA and DNA assays and became head of the Nucleic Acid Diagnostics business unit at Chiron.

In 1998, he joined Bayer Diagnostics as senior vice president of Nucleic Acid Diagnostics and acting-chief scientific officer of Bayer Diagnostics. He left Bayer in 2000 and co-founded Tethys Bioscience in 2002.

A published author of more than 185 articles and book chapters, Dr. Urdea is also an inventor and has more than 100 issued and pending patents.

Lisa Cohen- 3:00 pm

Photo of Lisa Cohen

Lisa Cohen is the executive director of Washington Global Health Alliance, a coalition of the state’s leading global health organizations.

Ms. Cohen’s career includes 25 years in journalism as a newsroom manager for Seattle television affiliates KOMO, KING, KIRO and KCPQ, and as a freelancer documentary and special projects producer for CBS “60 Minutes” and “The Early Show”. She has also taught an adjunct journalism at the University of Washington, where she earned degrees in broadcast journalism and international communications.

She serves on the Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association Board, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee for the Seattle Central Community Colleges and advisory boards for Global Washington, Seattle Biomed’s BioQuest program, the Queensland-Washington Alliance and Global Health Nexus, Seattle.

Ms. Cohen has also served as interim executive director for Seattle CityClub and as communication advisor for Gov. Christine Gregoire during the 2004 election.


Fall 2009 Speaker

William Julius Wilson

Commencement Speech

William Julius Wilson is Lewis P. and Linda L. Geyser University Professor at Harvard University. He is one of only 20 University Professors, the highest professional distinction for a Harvard faculty member. After receiving the Ph.D. from Washington State University in 1966, Wilson taught sociology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, before joining the University of Chicago faculty in 1972. In 1990 he was appointed the Lucy Flower University Professor and director of the University of Chicago’s Center for the Study of Urban Inequality. He joined the faculty at Harvard in July of 1996.

Past President of the American Sociological Association, Wilson has received 42 honorary degrees, including honorary doctorates from Princeton, Columbia, the University of Pennsylvania, Northwestern, Johns Hopkins, Dartmouth, and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. A MacArthur Prize Fellow from 1987 to 1992, Wilson has been elected to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the National Academy of Education, the American Philosophical Society, the Institute of Medicine, and the British Academy. In June 1996 he was selected by Time magazine as one of America’s 25 Most Influential People. He is a recipient of the 1998 National Medal of Science, the highest scientific honor in the United States, and was awarded the Talcott Parsons Prize in the Social Sciences by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003.

He is the author of numerous publications, including The Declining Significance of Race, winner of the American Sociological Association’s Sydney Spivack Award; The Truly Disadvantaged, which was selected by the editors of the New York Times Book Review as one of the 16 best books of 1987, and received The Washington Monthly Annual Book Award and the Society for the Study of Social Problems’ C. Wright Mills Award; When Work Disappears: The World of the New Urban Poor, which was selected as one of the notable books of 1996 by the editors of the New York Times Book Review and received the Sidney Hillman Foundation Award; and The Bridge Over the Racial Divide: Rising Inequality and Coalition Politics. More recently he is the co-author of There Goes the Neighborhood: Racial, Ethnic, and Class Tensions in Four Chicago Neighborhoods and Their Meaning for America and Good Kids in Bad Neighborhoods: Successful Development in Social Context. His latest book is More than Just Race: Being Black and Poor in the Inner City.

Other honors granted to Wilson include the Seidman Award in Political Economy (the first and only non-economist to receive the Award); the Golden Plate Achievement Award; the Distinguished Alumnus Award, Washington State University; the American Sociological Association’s Dubois, Johnson, Frazier Award (for significant scholarship in the field of inter-group relations); the American Sociological Association’s Award for Public Understanding of Sociology; Burton Gordon Feldman Award (“for outstanding contributions in the field of public policy”) Brandeis University; the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Award (granted by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Los Angeles); and the Aaron Wildavsky Enduring Contribution Award, for The Truly Disadvantaged and When Work Disappears, from the American Political Science Association.

Professor Wilson is a member of numerous national boards and commissions, and was previously the Chair of the Board of The Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and of the Russell Sage Foundation.


Spring 2009 Speakers

Bob Watt – 8am

Bob Watt is vice chair and chair-elect of the Seattle Foundation board, chair of the White Center Making Connections Partners Group, and vice chair of Thrive by Five. Watt is a board member of several organizations, including the Casey Family Programs, Business Partnership for Early Learning, Aerospace Futures Alliance, Children’s’ Hospital Foundation, and Institute for Learning and Brain Science. He has served as a member of the Washington Learns Steering Committee and as cochair of the Washington State Early Learning Council.

He also served as deputy mayor of the City of Seattle under Mayor Norm Rice. As president of Family Services of Seattle/King County, he spent more than 12 years at Youth Eastside Services, the last five as its executive director. Additionally, he was a cofounder and board chair of the Children’s Alliance. He also served as board chair of Alliance for Education, Group Health Foundation, and SEAFAIR. Bob Watt Portrait – PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Boeing Corporation PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Boeing Corporation

His work helping build stronger communities has been recognized with a number of awards, including the Edward E. Carlson Outstanding Alumni Award from Leadership Tomorrow in recognition of his active leadership contributing to the well-being of the Puget Sound Region, the Ruby Red Slipper award from HomeSight for his work in building stronger communities, the Lifetime of Idealism Awardfrom CityYear for his contributions to regional communities, the Edwin T. Pratt award from the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, and the Crystal Eagle award from the Tabor 100 group for a lifetime of achievement in helping the Seattle Region thrive.

Watt received his bachelor’s degree in sociology from Portland State University and earned a teacher’s certificate in special education from Western Washington University. He volunteers as an auctioneer for community organizations and is a member of the Seattle Rotary Club.

Theodor P. Baseler – 11:30am

Ted Baseler is the president and chief executive officer of Ste. Michelle Wine Estates, one of the 10 largest wine companies in the United States.

Baseler began his career at Ste. Michelle in 1984 as director of marketing and was offered increasing levels of responsibility, eventually being named president and chief executive officer in 2001. Prior to working at the winery, he had a successful career as a creative marketer of consumer packaged goods at several advertising agencies, including J. Walter Thompson, Chiat Day, and Cole & Weber. He was named one of the top marketing professionals in the country by Advertising Age.

Baseler has served as the chairman of the Washington Wine Commission, chairman of the Napa-based Wine Market Council, and director of the Washington Wine Institute. He has served on the Washington Business Roundtable and the boards of Children’s Hospital and Patrons of Northwest Arts.

A strong advocate for WSU, Baseler was named to the WSU Board of Regents in 2006 after serving on the WSU Foundation Board of Trustees for the previous 10 years. He has been recognized with the Alumni Achievement Award and the WSU Foundation Outstanding Service Award. He led the efforts to develop a world-class enology and viticulture program at WSU, working with the state legislature for funding. Additionally, he has been the driving force behind Chateau Ste. Michelle events that have raised more than $2 million for diversity scholarships. In the early 1990s, his company endowed a distinguished professorship in viticulture.

Born in Oregon and raised in Washington, Baseler graduated with a bachelor’s degree from Washington State University and a master’s degree from Northwestern University. Gary Steele- 3pm

Gary Steele – 3:00 pm

Gary Steele is the chief executive officer of Proofpoint Inc., a California-based company that provides e-mail security and data loss prevention.

Steele, who received a bachelor’s degree in computer science in 1984 from Washington State University, maintains his ties with WSU by serving on the Frank Entrepreneurship Program advisory board. He recently arranged for a donation of the Proofpoint spam software to WSU.

Before joining Proofpoint, he served as the chief executive officer of Portera, an applications company delivering solutions for the professional services industry. Under his leadership, the company raised more than $100 million and grew from its initial concept to $20 million in revenue. Prior to Portera, Steele served as the vice president and general manager of the middleware and data warehousing product group at Sybase Inc. His experience also includes business development, marketing, and engineering roles at Sun Microsystems and Hewlett-Packard.