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Kirk and Noel Schulz // #GoCougs First Family


The presidency in higher education can be personal, which is exactly why I invited on not only the president of Washington State Kirk Schulz but also the first lady Noel Schulz, who also serves as an engineering professor. This first family talks about how the role university president has drastically changed related to social media and public presence – which for them even include their grown children and corgi puppies. In this episode, we get the unique opportunity to learn not just from two campus leaders who are active on-campus and online, but a dual career couple and their philosophy of a team-based approach to marriage and career trajectories.

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Notes from this Episode

Power Couple
#HigherEds First Couple of Social Media

TRS 80
Washington State University


Mary Jo Gonzales

More about Kirk

Transforming WSU into a top 25 public research universityKirk Schulz

University President Kirk H. Schulz is guiding Washington State University’s transformation into one of the nation’s top public research universities.
To achieve that goal, WSU launched the Drive to Twenty-Five in the fall of 2016, a system-wide effort to achieve recognized status as one of the nation’s top 25 public research universities by 2030. The initiative builds on the cornerstones of the University’s Strategic Plan and its two primary goals:

  • WSU will offer a transformative educational experience to undergraduate and graduate students
  • WSU will accelerate the development of a preeminent research portfolio

Continuing the momentum from the successful launch of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is also high on the list of the president’s priorities. Created by the legislature in 2015, the college welcomed its inaugural class of 60 medical students in August.
“Creation of the Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine is the most dynamic development for this University in generations,” President Schulz says. ”We are committed to expanding access to healthcare, particularly for those in rural and underserved communities, and for vulnerable populations in Washington.”
The University has achieved several significant milestones under President Schulz’s leadership:

  • Statewide enrollment totaled a record-breaking 30,614 students for the fall, 2017 semester—the second consecutive year WSU topped the 30,000-student mark
  • WSU Everett, the University’s newest campus, has expanded its academic offerings and opened a state-of-the-art facility in downtown Everett
  • WSU and the state wine industry—the second largest producer of premium wine in the country—have strengthened their partnership, symbolized by the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates WSU Wine Science Center at WSU Tri-Cities
Reaching out to Cougar Nation

President Schulz meets regularly with faculty, staff, students, alumni, and other members of the Cougar family—across the state and beyond—as he partners with others to build upon University’s successes.
The president is one of the most active college presidents nationally to communicate via Twitter, using the social media tool to connect with the WSU family and share his pride in the University. He invites others to follow him:@WSU_Cougar_Pres

National leader

A nationally respected leader in higher education, President Schulz became the 11th president of WSU and a tenured professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering on June 13, 2016. He previously served seven years as president of Kansas State University, where he guided KSU to significant achievements in research, enrollment, and fundraising.
President Schulz chaired the NCAA board of governors, the NCAA’s highest-ranking committee, from 2014-2016. The board ensures that each division of the NCAA operates consistently within the basic purposes, fundamental policies, and general principles of the association.
Prior to his appointment at KSU, President Schulz served in a variety of administrative roles during nine years at Mississippi State University. As vice president for research and economic development from 2007 to 2009, he guided MSU to significant advances in landing research grants and contracts. He was dean of the James Worth Bagley College of Engineering from 2005 to 2007 and director of the Dave C. Swalm School of Chemical Engineering from 2001 to 2004. He has also served on the faculty at Michigan Technological University and the University of North Dakota.

Personal background, interests and activities

President Schulz is a member of several professional societies, including the American Institute for Chemical Engineering (AICE) and the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). He is a fellow in both the ASEE and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
He is active in the Boy Scouts of America and served as president of the Coronado Council in Kansas. In 2013, he was recognized with the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award from the National Eagle Scout Association. He has also served in a variety of roles on the boards of the Cereal Food Processors, the Greater Manhattan Community Foundation, the Kansas Bioscience Authority, and the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology.
President Schulz earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering at Virginia Tech.
He is married to Dr. Noel Nunnally Schulz, who is a professor in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. She previously was the associate dean for research and graduate programs in the Kansas State University College of Engineering and the Paslay Professor of Electrical Engineering.
The Schulzes have two sons, Tim and Andrew.

More about Noel

Noel SchulzProfessor in School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture, Washington State University, Pullman, Washington, USA
Noel Schulz received her B.S.E.E. (1988) and M.S.E.E. (1990) degrees from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) in Blacksburg, Virginia, USA.  She received her Ph.D. in EE (1995) from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA.  Before moving to Washington State in the summer of 2016, Noel spent seven years on Kansas State University faculty in 2009 in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.   From August, 2012 through May, 2016, she served as the Associate Dean for Engineering Research and Graduate Programs.  Noel has been active for over 24 years in teaching, research, and service at six U.S. universities.  She teaches electrical engineering and power engineering topics.  In research and graduate studies, she has graduated 45 MS and 13 PhD students; published 175 papers and 2 book chapters; and brought in over $40M in external research through individual and collaborative projects including a U.S. National Science Foundation CAREER award.  Dr. Schulz is a Fellow of IEEE and the American Society of Engineering Education (ASEE).
Her research interests are in power system design, analysis and operations including rural electrification, smart grid, renewable energy, shipboard power systems, and intelligent system applications.  As Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Programs at Kansas State, she advanced faculty development and research team activities and worked to cultivate the graduate student program and environment in the College of Engineering.  Her other leadership interest areas are increasing the number of women and under-represented minorities in STEM as well as international engineering solutions.
Noel has been active in the IEEE Power & Energy Society (PES) serving on the PES Governing Boards for 12 years from 2004-2015.  She served as Secretary (2004-2007), Treasurer (2008-2009), President-Elect (2010-2011), President (2012-2013) and Immediate Past President (2014-2015).  In 2014 she received the IEEE HP Harriet B. Rigas Award.  She is a member of Eta Kappa Nu (Electrical Engineering Honorary Society), Tau Beta Pi (Engineering Honor Society), and the Society of Women Engineers. She served on the Board of Directors for ASEE from 2008 to 2010.
In addition to her role on the faculty, she will serve as the Washington State First Lady.  Noel and her husband Kirk have two grown sons, Tim and Andrew.

Connect with President Kirk Schulz

Twitter: @wsu_cougar_pres

Instagram: Wsu_Cougar_Pres



Connect with Dr. Noel Schulz

Twitter: @Wsu_Noel_Schulz

Instagram: @wsu_noel_schulz

Snapchat: @wsu_noel


About Josie and The Podcast

In each episode, Dr. Josie Ahlquist – digital leadership author, researcher, and speaker – connects tech and leadership in education. This podcast will bring you leaders on-campus and online. From Senior Vice Presidents on Snapchat, YouTubers receiving billions of views and new media professionals. All through the lens of social media and leadership. Josie hopes you will not only learn from these digital leaders but also laugh as we all explore how to be our best selves online and off.

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