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WSU names next provost amid calls by faculty to replace leadership

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(The Center Square) – Washington State University announced that T. Chris Riley-Tillman has been selected as the institution of higher learning’s new provost. He will succeed Elizabeth Chilton, provost and executive vice president, starting July 1.

The hunt for a replacement ended Thursday on a search began in January after WSU President Kirk Schulz acknowledged the need to separate the chancellor and provost positions.

Chilton became provost and executive vice president in 2020 and then adopted the role of chancellor in 2022. She’s served in both roles for the past two years.

WSU paid Chilton $82,000 as an adjunct faculty member in 2020 and $193,400 as provost and vice president the same year. In 2021 and 2022, she ditched the adjunct position but retained the other roles, making $460,000 the first year and $556,300 the second year.

Riley-Tillman was one of three finalists for the position who visited WSU this month to give presentations. He is currently a professor and dean of the College of Education & Human Development at the University of Missouri, according to a WSU announcement.

“Chris’s experience as a professor, department chair and administrator will be critical to his work as provost,” Schulz said in the announcement. “His role as the academic leader of our institution will require open and transparent communications with faculty — particularly as we begin the process of conducting a systemwide administrative and programmatic review — and I am confident he will rise to the occasion.”

The announcement comes a little over a week after Schulz announced his plan to retire as university president in June 2025. The move follows a press release from late February in which 207 faculty members called on WSU to hire a new president, administration and board of regents, according to Pullman Radio.

WSU’s Pullman campus enrollment is down 16% since Schulz was hired and systemwide enrollment is down 12%, the lowest in 14 years, according to the release.

“These last eight years as president of Washington State University have been some of the best years of my career,” Schulz said in his retirement announcement. “I am immensely proud of what we’ve accomplished together to educate students, conduct ground-breaking research, and improve the lives of Washingtonians. I look forward to continuing this work over the next year, and I look forward to supporting the Board of Regents in their search for my successor.”