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Making of a medical school

How the vision of WSU’s late President Elson S. Floyd became a reality

In October 2016, the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine earned accreditation from the Liaison Committee on Medical Education. It was a green light for the college to begin serving as Washington’s premier community-based medical school.

“Washington State University has worked to serve the needs of our state, nation, and world for 125 years, and successful development of a medical school is one more way for us to improve the health and wellbeing of Washingtonians.”
—Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd, PhD

Fulfilling Dr. Floyd’s vision

The late WSU President Elson S. Floyd envisioned a medical college that would achieve the following:

  • Expand health care access
    Create solutions to the problem of access to quality health care in rural and urban underserved areas of Washington State.
  • Train physicians who will serve their own communities
    Recruit students from rural and underserved urban communities to establish a pathway to medical school and back to their communities.
  • Be statewide and community-based
    Medical students complete their academic and clinical work at one or more of the WSU campuses to establish relationships in and near underserved areas.
  • Provide an interprofessional education
    Give students from different health disciplines opportunities to learn in a collaborative environment, building skills needed to lead health care teams of the future.
  • Foster economic development
    Expand the WSU research enterprise to spur technology transfer.
  • Advance discovery
    Support research that has a global impact on the science of human health and wellness.


Below is a chronicle of the events leading up to the 2016 accreditation.

August 18, 2017
The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine hosts its first ever White Coat Ceremony.

October 19, 2016
The Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine achieves preliminary accreditation.

August 1, 2016
The Spokane Teaching Health Center clinic, a training site for physicians, opens on Washington State University Spokane’s Health Sciences campus.

May 6, 2016
The Washington State University Board of Regents authorizes the hiring of administrative staff, faculty, and operating staff for the new Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine.

“Dr. Floyd led us to aspire to a time when you could drop in on any community in Washington, regardless of its size, and ask someone if they had access to quality health care—and the answer would be, ‘Yes.’
“That day is probably a long way off. But if we were to reach that goal, Dr. Floyd would be delighted.”
—James Zimmerman, Chief Operating Officer, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

February 11, 2016
The Liaison Committee on Medical Education (LCME), the medical school accrediting agency, grant the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine “candidate” status. That means the agency has reviewed the foundational documents submitted by the college.

December 1, 2015
The College of Medicine submits its accreditation documents to the LCME.

October 12, 2015
Inaugural dean Dr. John Tomkowiak and acting dean Dr. Ken Roberts embark on a statewide tour to meet with health care provider partners in Spokane, Tri Cities, Vancouver, and Everett.

September 18, 2015
The WSU Board of Regents approves a proposal to change the name from the College of Medical Sciences to the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine, in honor of the late president. The board also welcomes the announcement of Dr. John Tomkowiak, a veteran of community-based, interprofessional medical education, as the inaugural dean of the college.

“We’re going to train students in primary care and to work in rural and underserved areas. We’re going to do world-class research. We’re going to have expertise in population health.”
—Dr. John Tomkowiak, founding dean, Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

September 11, 2015
The College hires more than 40 clinicians and basic scientists to serve on the medical school faculty.

June 20, 2015
Elson S. Floyd, the 10th president of Washington State University and a nationally respected voice for affordable, accessible higher education, dies of complications from colon cancer.

May 4, 2015

A search committee is formed to select the school’s founding dean. Committees are created to write curriculum and build the infrastructure needed to support students.

April 1, 2015

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signs into law a bill that gives Washington State University the authority to create an independently accredited medical school in Spokane. WSU won bipartisan support for the proposal in the Washington state legislature.

“Over the course of its 125-year history, Washington State University has enjoyed many moments of great achievement. There is no doubt that today will be listed among its most historic. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee this morning signed into law a bill that paves the way for an independently accredited WSU medical school at our health sciences campus in Spokane.”
—Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd, PhD

October 3, 2014
Leaders at the University of Washington and Washington State University announce an agreement to dissolve their WWAMI partnership and independently pursue their respective proposals to meet the state’s medical education needs

September 12, 2014
The WSU Board of Regents unanimously approves a resolution directing university leadership to “pursue approval for an independently accredited school of medicine while maintaining the university’s commitment to (University of Washington School of Medicine’s) WWAMI as the program’s largest partner.”

September 11, 2014
MGT of America, a national consulting firm hired by WSU, presents the findings of its medical school feasibility study to the Board of Regents. It concludes that Washington State University is well positioned to create its own accredited medical school.

December 9, 2013
A new $80 million Pharmaceutical and Biomedical Sciences Building opens on the Spokane campus.  The College of Pharmacy completes its move from Pullman to Spokane by month’s end.

September 27, 2011
The Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences becomes part of the Division of Health Sciences and consolidates its academic programs in Spokane.

September 3, 2010
The Board of Regents officially designates WSU Spokane as the university’s health sciences campus.

December 10, 2008
The College of Nursing moves into the new Nursing Building on the WSU Spokane Riverpoint campus.

February 25, 2008
In his State of the University address, President Floyd outlines his vision for a comprehensive network of health sciences services and programs at WSU Spokane.