Support swells at Capitol for naming new WSU medical school for Elson Floyd

Dr. Elson Floyd meets with students at Washington State University.

Dr. Elson Floyd meets with students at Washington State University.

OLYMPIA… The idea of naming the new Washington State University medical school in Spokane for its greatest champion, the late university president Elson Floyd, is receiving a groundswell of support at the Capitol, reports Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

Baumgartner will introduce a bill this week naming the school for the university president who died Saturday of colon cancer at age 59. With Floyd’s strong backing, lawmakers this year passed a bill authorizing Washington State University to create a medical school, and it was signed into law by Gov. Jay Inslee April 1.

Already Baumgartner noted Washington State University students are mounting a Facebook campaign to name the school for Floyd. Sentiment also is running strong among lawmakers, he said.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane.

“Naming the school for Elson Floyd is a fitting tribute for the man who did so much to create it,” said Baumgartner, who sponsored the Senate version of the medical-school bill. “Even as he suffered from the disease that would take his life, Dr. Floyd was a tireless advocate for the project.  He presented a compelling case for a second public medical school in this state at a time when I don’t think many people understood the need. “Every year hundreds of our talented college graduates leave the state to continue their medical education because there isn’t enough room at the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle. And when they leave, they don’t come back. That has produced a shortage of physicians in Washington that is particularly acute outside the state’s urban areas. Dr. Floyd showed us why Washington State University is uniquely able to address this problem, by developing a new community-based program that will help disperse young doctors into underserved areas of the state.

“This is a rare case where we can say a major project that will do great good for the state was accomplished in large part because of the vision of a single man. Elson Floyd saw it through, right to the end. He stood with us in the Senate March 25 when we took the final vote on the floor and we sang the WSU fight song. It is one of the reasons his death comes as such a great shock – that and the fact that he was a friend to so many of us.

“Of course the Washington State University board of regents could take this step on their own, but I think it would be fitting for a gesture of this kind to come from the Legislature. The school has one last hurdle to overcome before we adjourn for the year. We need an appropriation in this year’s budget to begin the accreditation process. I can think of no better way to recognize Dr. Floyd’s contribution to our state than to finish our session by funding the Elson Floyd School of Medicine.”