Issue 2011-08 (August 17, 2011)



Biomedical & Health Sciences Building Construction to Start

By Barb Chamberlain

The 2011 Washington Legislature voted to allocate $35 million to WSU Spokane to begin construction of the new Biomedical and Health Sciences Building on the Riverpoint Campus. That’s about half of what’s needed to finish the structure, the first in a planned multi-building complex. WSU and Spokane community leaders plan to go back to the legislature and ask for the rest of the funding for Phase I in the upcoming session.

Rendering of the Biomedical and Health Sciences Building

In the meantime, you’ll see fencing go up and excavation equipment being moved on campus the week of August 22 in preparation for soil remediation work. Up to 25,000 cubic yards of soil and ash will be removed from the site, which served as a railway trench until the 1970s. Excavation will start after Labor Day and will continue for about 6 weeks.

The excavation work will be done by Red Diamond Construction Inc. under the supervision of general contractor Graham Construction & Management. Upon completion of the excavation work, construction of the foundation will start this fall. Work will continue in the spring with the construction of the steel frame for the building. It is expected that the building will be enclosed by fall 2012, with project completion slated for July 2013.

Once complete, the approximately 120,000 square-foot building designed by architectural firm NBBJ of Seattle will accommodate the growth in the health sciences at Riverpoint. It will house offices, classrooms, and labs for the medical education program as well as for the WSU College of Pharmacy, which will be consolidating in Spokane.

Pardon Our Dust—Pedestrian Detours

Pedestrian detours will be in place throughout the construction project. A new crosswalk will be installed at the entrance of the Nursing Building for pedestrians wanting to cross Spokane Falls Boulevard. During the excavation phase, the sidewalk on the north side of Spokane Falls Boulevard will be closed from the crosswalk at the Bookie to the Nursing Building. Pedestrians destined for the Nursing Building or the Health Sciences Building from the southern part of campus should use the sidewalk on the south side of Spokane Falls Boulevard and cross at the new crosswalk. After the excavation phase has been completed and pedestrian safety has been restored, a new crosswalk will be installed on the east side of the entrance to the south parking lot. The sidewalk from there to the Nursing Building will remain closed during the construction of the building.  

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Spokane Medical students Fill their Summers with Research

By Doug Nadvornick

Image of Derek Weyrauch

Last spring, WSU Spokane clinical associate professor Matt Layton made medical student Derek Weyhrauch an offer he couldn't refuse.

Layton was planning a research project and was looking for help. He was studying why many people who quit smoking usually go back to lighting up within a few days.

"We're assessing their mood, their anxiety, their irritability, stress, the kinds of things people go through when they try to quit smoking," said Layton.

Layton and his co-investigator, associate professor of nursing Jackie Banasik, needed help collecting samples and conducting surveys with study participants, so they recruited Weyhrauch.

"Derek is a triathlete," said Layton. "When he understood the study had to do with getting people to quit smoking, he got excited and very enthusiastic about it."

Weyhrauch quickly signed on. He needed to fulfill a research requirement. He says he enjoyed experiencing each step of a research project, from recruiting participants to working with them to analyzing their data.

"I got to take the vital signs, work with a blood pressure cuff," he said. "I got lots of practice obtaining patient samples. And then I got to work in the lab with the samples that we were able to obtain from our participants."

The data analysis continues. To wrap up his part of the research, Weyhrauch will pick one part of the project and write a paper about it. That will give him the credit he needs to graduate.

Student also involved in hospital research

Image of Maika Dang

Layton says two other Spokane medical students were also involved with research projects this summer. One, Maika Dang, is working with Providence Sacred Heart emergency room physician Dr. Darin Neven. Neven directs the Consistent Care Program, which tries to steer the most frequent—and sometimes inappropriate—users of Spokane's four hospital emergency departments to other health care options.

Neven gave Dang the work of analyzing the hospital charts of about 275 patients enrolled in the program. Dang reviewed the orders and patient notes written by providers.

They found that a large percentage of the most frequent users have drug and/or psychiatric problems. They also found that the program’s interventions—"we give patients what they need, not what they want," says Neven—have paid off. Neven says the number of emergency room visits by these people dropped by 60 percent six months after they enrolled.

Dang, Layton, Neven and others on the team are writing up their findings, in hopes of getting them published. In addition, Neven says the WSU College of Nursing has won a $550,000 federal grant to replicate the Consistent Care Program in the three hospitals in Washington’s Tri-Cities.

What's in it for me?

It's easy to see why Dang and Weyhrauch got involved in their respective research projects. Weyhrauch gets school credit; Dang was paid a stipend. Both say they're interested in helping with other research.

Neven says working with Dang was his first chance to collaborate with a medical student. He hopes it’s not the last.

"It went very well," he said. "We have lots of other projects" that medical students could get involved in.

Matt Layton says he reaps several benefits. He enjoys helping medical students develop the skills they learned during the previous year. And he appreciates the help and energy they bring to his research.

"It allows me to step back and do work on my other projects once I know that they’re on track and have proper supervision and guidance and support," said Layton.

Layton hopes that as the number of research projects on the Riverpoint campus grows that more Spokane health sciences students will see an opportunity to get valuable experience.

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Spokane Researcher Studies High Sugar Diet Connection to Heart Disease

By Lorraine Nelson, College of Pharmacy

A WSU research project to understand how a poor diet might genetically change human heart function and contribute to cardiovascular disease has been funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

Sue Marsh in her lab with students
Sue Marsh (background) with students in her lab.

Susan Marsh, an assistant professor in the nutrition and exercise physiology program in the College of Pharmacy, has found in preliminary experiments that a diet high in sugar and saturated fat altered the attachment of sugars to proteins in the muscle cells of the heart.

"We're interested in the way proteins talk to each other within the cells because proteins determine how well cells function," Marsh said. "We'll be identifying which proteins have an altered sugar attachment, looking at whether this changes signaling between proteins and if this affects the way the proteins are transcribed by genes, which ultimately will change the way the heart will function."

Marsh anticipates the findings will provide a better understanding of the way in which poor nutrition promotes cardiovascular disease.

The so-called "Western" diet—high in fat and sugar—is partially responsible for the current obesity epidemic in society and is extremely bad for the heart, Marsh said.

"Obviously, as one of the grant reviewers pointed out, one good way to improve this is to just change your diet, but that's not consistent with what's happening in society now," she said. "For example, breakfast is the most important meal of the day but it's hard to find breakfast cereals that haven't been sweetened."

The project is funded for three years with a grant of $450,600.

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New Community Resource to Support Research Growth, Improve Health Outcomes

By Judith Van Dongen

As the campus prepares for the upcoming construction of the new biomedical/health sciences building, one WSU Spokane researcher is plugging away at another piece of critical infrastructure for expanding the health sciences in Spokane: the Spokane Community Clinical Data Repository, an electronic health record mining system that will support translational health research—which focuses on health outcomes—in the greater Spokane area.

Image of Kenn Daratha

A statistician and computer scientist by training, assistant professor of nursing Kenn Daratha has contributed his expertise to studies on childhood diabetes, depression, coronary stenting, and other health-related topics, collaborating with area physicians as well as fellow WSU researchers. Throughout his many collaborations, it struck him that if data sets could be somehow be shared, researchers would benefit and opportunities for research would expand.  

"Let's say you're looking at answering one research question and a colleague down the hall has something similar they'd like to investigate," said Daratha, "Why would they have to go through all of the work of collecting new data when you already have what he or she needs?"

So when the Institute for Systems Medicine (ISM) approached him to set up a clinical data repository to serve the research needs of both academics and clinicians in Spokane, the idea spoke to him.

With funding support from ISM, Daratha has spent much of the past two years developing the system as a collective, community resource available to any researcher. It currently houses 10 years’ worth of public data on statewide hospitalizations—around six million patient records—from the Washington State Department of Health. It also holds study-specific, protected data available only to the researcher who collected that data. Daratha is in the process of securing approval for the clinical data repository to also house private, anonymized data from all health care providers in the greater Spokane area, including part of North Idaho. This would give researchers access to even more detailed and current data than what is available from the state.

Public access to launch next month

Data housed in the Spokane Community Clinical Data Repository will be accessible through an online tool that will be launched next month. The tool enables researchers to quickly pull up data on different populations and examine health outcomes for those patients by year, age, gender, and whether they reside in an urban or rural area. For example, a researcher can look at kidney transplant recipients to see what percentage of patients didn't make it, what the average length of their hospital stay was, or how many patients were rehospitalized following the procedure.

"By making this system available to all researchers, we are looking to grow translational research and improve health outcomes," Daratha said. He explained that the system is meant to spur collaborations, allow researchers to generate research hypotheses, and provide preliminary data to support funding proposals.

In the future, the system could also be used in conjunction with another resource being developed by ISM, a bio-specimen repository of tissue samples for local basic science researchers. If tissue samples can be linked to data contained in the clinical data repository, new opportunities would arise for basic scientists to work with clinicians to get answers to critical health questions, Daratha said.

Although clinical data repositories are widespread, the Spokane Community Clinical Data Repository is unique in its community focus, its availability to academia as well as the clinical sector.

"The research infrastructure we're developing—including the clinical data repository— will support Spokane’s existing research base and draw new researchers, faculty, and physicians to the area," said Amy Johnson, ISM's chief operating officer. "And that’s exactly what we need to grow biomedical research capacity, expand health sciences education, and catalyze economic development in the region."

Researchers interested in learning more about the Spokane Community Clinical Data Repository may contact Kenn Daratha at

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Doctoral Student Selected to Lead National Nursing Simulation Initiatives

By Alli Benjamin, College of Nursing

Throughout her 15-year nursing career, Janet Willhaus has frequently asked herself, "How can I advance nursing as a profession?"

Photo of Janet Willhaus

Now, she has the opportunity. Through a competitive application process, the nursing PhD student and teaching assistant was recently selected as the scholar in residence for the New York-based National League for Nursing (NLN), a professional organization for nurse faculty and leaders in nursing education.

The role is a new position for the NLN, and Willhaus is appointed for one year beginning on September 6. As the NLN scholar in residence, Willhaus will provide direction to NLN initiatives to advance the use of simulation in nursing education, including efforts to increase faculty development in simulation program offerings and expansion of the Simulation Innovation Resource Center Web site.  

Nursing simulation involves the use of a manikin to practice key skills such as inserting an IV and monitoring changes in health. It allows students to practice nursing in a safe setting on a "patient" who responds in a realistic manner—high-fidelity manikins can talk, sweat, bleed, experience changes in blood pressure, and even cry. Simulation also enables students to practice working as a team to deliver the best patient care.

"Although simulation is a traditional component of a well-rounded nursing program, many nursing faculty have not been fully trained in the methodology or the technology," said Willhaus. "In my new role, I will be able to advise educators on integrating simulation into their curricula and using simulation as an effective tool to prepare clinically competent nurses."

Throughout her career, Willhaus has had many opportunities to lead simulation trainings for students and practicing nurses.

"While serving in the U.S. Army Reserve in Topeka, Kansas, I was selected to train medics using simulation," Willhaus said. "Using high-fidelity manikins, I developed scenarios that health care personnel could potentially face in war situations, such as caring for a patient who had survived an IED blast or moving a convoy."

After an exhaustive search to identify a nursing program that excelled in simulation, Willhaus came to WSU in 2009. Once accepted into the PhD program and after working with simulation faculty, Willhaus looked for opportunities to improve it. Through peer model trainings, Willhaus advised faculty on best practices in simulation and how to use simulation to meet overarching program objectives. She also assisted faculty in the Sleep and Performance Research Center's simulation laboratory.

NLN program officer Elaine Tagliareni is looking forward to using Willhaus' expertise in simulation to build a strong program.

"Janet's strong simulation experience and her focus on researching innovative ways to deliver simulation for nursing students made her a stand out for the scholar in residence program," Tagliareni said.

Willhaus will take the year off of teaching at WSU, but will continue to work on her PhD while in New York.

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WSU Receives Pharmacy Scholarship Funding from Cardinal Health

By Lorraine Nelson

The WSU College of Pharmacy is one of 13 pharmacy schools from across the nation that has been selected by a Fortune 500 company to receive funding for student scholarships.

Universities that were selected to participate in the $1.1 million scholarship program by Cardinal Health—a health care services company focused on improving the cost-effectiveness of health care—were those that offer strong independent pharmacy, nuclear pharmacy or hospital pharmacy curricula. Each school received funding ranging from $50,000 to $125,000.

"Cardinal Health serves more than 7,000 community pharmacists across the country, and we're one of the nation's largest employers of nuclear and hospital pharmacists," said Mike Kaufmann, chief executive officer of Cardinal Health's Pharmaceutical segment. "We passionately believe in the essential role pharmacists play in making sure patients receive safe, high quality healthcare. That's why we're proud to partner with the Washington State University College of Pharmacy to invest in developing tomorrow's pharmacy leaders.”

Photo of Linda Garrelts MacLean
Garrelts MacLean

"We were among the schools to receive this generous gift because we are recognized as a national leader in educating students to be successful business people," said Gary M. Pollack, dean of the WSU College of Pharmacy. "I have to credit our associate dean, Linda Garrelts MacLean, for that national reputation. She coordinates a team of other faculty, alumni and community pharmacists who participate each year in teaching our doctor of pharmacy students how to be great entrepreneurs."

Those efforts have led the WSU College of Pharmacy to take first place twice in the last seven years in the national student business plan competition sponsored by the National Community Pharmacists Association, and to take second place twice during that time, Pollack said.

Garrelts MacLean joined the faculty of the College full-time in 2006 after a successful career operating an independent pharmacy in Spokane. She is a 1978 alumnus of the College.

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Nursing Graduate Supports New Law for Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety

Every year 70,000 people are injured in pedestrian-vehicle accidents nationwide, with 4,300 people losing their lives. That equates to an injury every eight minutes and a death every two hours, says Kay Olson, a graduate of the College of Nursing who works as a community health nursing instructor at WSU Tri-Cities.

Olson contributed to the successful passing of a bill that requires traffic safety schools to include as part of their curriculum a 30-minute segment on safe driving amidst bicyclists and pedestrians. The bill was introduced by Washington State Representative Brad Klippert, who called upon Olson's research to prove its merit. Governor Gregoire signed it into law in April, and the bill took effect on July 22.

Developed by the Bicycle Alliance of Washington and approved by the state Department of Licensing, the curriculum has been used in driver-education classes for the past three years. Under the new law, errant motorists whose traffic-related offenses land them in traffic safety school will also be exposed to the curriculum. Materials will be provided to the driver improvement program at no charge by the Bicycle Alliance.

Olson became interested in pedestrian safety in 2009 when she witnessed a young man attempting to cross the street and saw that drivers would not stop for him. This incident inspired her to begin making contacts and doing research. Recently, she completed her master's degree based in part on the successful defense of her thesis, "Process of Collaboration: Increasing Pedestrian Safety."

"Fault in accidents is split pretty evenly between pedestrians and drivers," said Olson. "If people behind the wheel are at fault 50 percent of the time, this bill provides a great tool to better educate drivers about bicycle and pedestrian safety."

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Campus Partner Sirti Becomes Innovate Washington

Long-time campus partner Sirti has merged with the Seattle-based Washington Technology Center to become Innovate Washington. The merger took effect on August 1 and creates a single organization that assists innovative companies statewide with their research commercialization needs.

The agency's two Riverpoint Campus buildings have also been renamed: the Sirti Building is now the Innovate Washington Building and the Sirti Technology Center has become the Spokane Technology Center. Director of marketing development and communications Linda Hemingway says signage is being updated and will be replaced as the budget allows.

A bill establishing Innovate Washington passed the legislature and was signed into law by Governor Gregoire back in June. A Spokane celebration of the merger was held at the agency's Riverpoint Campus facility on July 27.

Innovate Washington combines the business-assistance programs of the Washington Technology Center and Sirti, adding a new sector-based economic development strategy that will initially focus on coordinating the state's clean energy initiatives.

Under the legislation, Innovate Washington:

  • facilitates research supportive of state industries and provides mechanisms for collaboration between technology-based industries and higher education institutions.
  • helps businesses secure research funds and develops and integrates technology into new products.
  • offers technology transfer and commercialization training opportunities.
  • serves as the lead entity for coordinating clean energy initiatives.
  • administers technology and innovation grant and loan programs.
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Increased Bus Service to Riverpoint Campus

Image: STA Bus Photo of Spokane Transit bus

Riding the bus to the Riverpoint Campus is about to get better, with increased service that will have a bus arriving on campus every 15 minutes. The Spokane Transit Authority is implementing a number of service changes that will be effective September 18. Changes affecting Riverpoint riders include:

  • Bus Routes 26 (Lidgerwood) and 28 (Nevada) – New connections to the Riverpoint Campus
  • Bus Route 29 (SCC) – Time point and zone changes; discontinued service to Minnehaha

For details on all service changes, visit the STA Web site.

Bus passes are available to WSU faculty, staff, and students for $11 month from the Parking Operations office in the South Campus Facility. Bus riders who participate in the Commute Trip Reduction (CTR) program and complete the monthly CTR calendar are eligible to receive a discount on the purchase of an annual parking pass.

For more information on the Commute Trip Reduction program, contact Norene Phillipson.

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  • Stephen Setter, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, was invited to join the editorial review board for The Consultant Pharmacist, the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP).Setter was also appointed as president-elect of the ASCP's Washington Chapter. He will serve a one-year term starting in November, followed by a one-year term as chapter president starting in November 2012.
  • Assistant professor Josh Neumiller and clinical research associate Erin Jennings, both with the College of Pharmacy, have been appointed as Washington Chapter officers of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. Starting this November, Neumiller will serve a two-year term and Jennings will serve a one-year term.
  • Doctor of pharmacy candidate Patrick Tabon '12 has been appointed to the 2011-2012 American College of Clinical Pharmacy's National StuNet Advisory Committee. Tabon was also selected as one of three Pharmacy Community of Interest Meeting Scholarship recipients who attended the American Association of Diabetes Education annual meeting and exhibition in Las Vegas, Nevada, earlier this month.
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Community Connections

  • Tues, Aug. 23 - "Eat With Your Eyes" Youth Farm Tour
    The Whole Plate and the Youth Sustainability Council host a series of summer farm tours for young people, ages 14 to 24. All trips are free, bus transportation is provided, and the farms are within a 30 minute trip from Spokane. Held 2 to 5 p.m. on Aug. 23, this tour visits Miller's Homestead, a local, "certified natural" beekeeping operation. Learn about bees and how they are vital to a food system; meet the beekeeper; explore the option of keeping bees at home; AND try a variety of delicious local honeys and some treats that use the honey instead of sugar! Make sure to wear clothes and closed toe shoes appropriate for touring a farm. Preregistration required by noon on Mon. Aug. 22 to reserve a seat on the bus. See the Community Building Web site for details and registration.
  • Mon, Sept. 5 - Fall Arts Preview
    Come to ComStock Park on Spokane's South Hill from 4 to 7:30 p.m. to explore what dozens of arts organizations are up to this fall. Bring a picnic and stay to enjoy a free Spokane Symphony concert under the bandshell.
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Personnel and Staffing Changes    


  • Leah Berry, Graduate Teaching Assistant, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Kellie Bradford, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Tri-Cities, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Katrina Butler, Graduate Teaching Assistant, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Jenatte Clark, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Yakima, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Erika Cleaves, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Tri-Cities, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Cari Cowin, Yakima, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Blair Ehlert, Animal Technician 2, WWAMI, effective August 11, 2011
  • Mary Jane Groebner, Instructor, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Lynn Jinishian, Graduate Teaching Assistant, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Krista Loney, Secretary Senior, Health Policy Administration, effective August 10, 2011
  • Georgia Lynch, Academic Coordinator, Speech and Hearing Sciences, effective August 16, 2011
  • Barbara Maddox, Coordinator, Vancouver, College of Nursing, effective July 1, 2011
  • Sally Matar-Curnow, Instructor, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Rhonda Milan, Instructor, program in Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, effective August 16, 2011
  • Tracy Morgan, Research Supervisor, SBDC, effective August 15, 2011
  • Kathy Ormsby, Graduate Teaching Assistant, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Stephanie Santos, Graduate Teaching Assistant, Tri-Cities, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011


  • Debbie Brinker, from Instructor to Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Susan Fleming, from Graduate Teaching Assistant to Clinical Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Erin Gillingham, moving from Instructor to Graduate Teaching Assistant, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Barbara King, moving from Parking Guide to Administrative Assistant 2, Facility Operations, effective August 16, 2011
  • Jean Schlittenhart, moving from Graduate Teaching Assistant to Instructor, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011
  • Linda Ward, moving from Clinical Assistant to Clinical Associate Professor, College of Nursing, effective August 16, 2011


  • T. Lacey Johnston, Office Assistant 3, Human Resources/Student Affairs, effective August 10, 2011
  • John Kuhn, Research Intern, Sleep and Performance Research Center, effective August 15, 2011
  • Lorrie Dawson, Assistant Professor, College of Nursing, effective July 31, 2011


  • Anne Strode, Associate in Research, WIMHRT, effective August 15, 2011
  • Anne Hirsch, Associate Dean, College of Nursing, effective September 1, 2011

Recruitment & Searches:

  • Office Assistant 2 (50 percent/10 months per year), Spokane MESA Center, closes August 16, 2011, apply at
  • Assistant or Associate Professor, College of Nursing, open until filled, review of applications currently underway
  • Associate Professor/Director of Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Program, Vancouver, College of Nursing, open until filled, review of applications begins August 15
  • Assistant or Associate Professor, College of Pharmacy/WSU Extension, Physiology, open until filled, review of applications begins August 31
  • Professor and Chair, Pharmaceutical Sciences, College of Pharmacy, open until filled, screening began April 1, 2011
  • Professor and Chair, Pharmacotherapy, College of Pharmacy, open until filled, screening began June 1, 2011
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, College of Nursing, open until filled
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Way to Go!

Here's where you make someone's day a little brighter by extending your thanks for a job well done. Send your "Way to Go!” comments to Judith Van Dongen and watch for your thanks to be published in an upcoming issue of the Campus Bulletin!

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The Bulletin is a monthly publication that is usually published on the second Wednesday of each month. The exact publication date may shift due to holidays. If you have an item that you'd like us to include, send it to us by Friday in the week before publication.

The Bulletin covers news of interest to the faculty, staff, and friends of Washington State University Spokane, and associates on other WSU campuses and on the Riverpoint Campus.

Regular columns cover professional accomplishments, opportunities for involvement in the campus community and the Spokane community, notices of new developments on campus, upcoming events, personnel changes, and other news.

The Bulletin also serves as a source of information for external communications directed to alumni, future and current students, and friends of Washington State University Spokane. You'll read it here first!

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Editorial staff