Former President Elson Floyd dies in Washington

contact: Cheryl Roland
| WMU News
Dr. Elson S. Floyd.

Dr. Elson S. Floyd

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Elson S. Floyd, sixth president of Western Michigan University, died in Washington Saturday, June 20, after a battle with cancer. He was 59.

Floyd's death was announced by Washington State University, where he had served as president since 2007. Two weeks ago he announced he was taking a leave to focus on cancer treatment.

Floyd served as president of WMU from 1998 to 2003. His tenure was marked by a series of major developments that have had a lasting impact on the campus and community.

Statement from President Dunn

WMU President John M. Dunn issued a statement on Floyd's death shortly after hearing the news.

"I know I speak for the entire University community when I say the death of Dr. Floyd represents a profound loss for both Western Michigan University and higher education as a whole," says Dunn. "He went on from his very successful presidency at Western Michigan University to take other important leadership positions and carve out a national reputation through his work with organizations like the American Council on Education.

Here at WMU, we are still building on some of the accomplishments of his presidency and the initiatives he launched. One such effort—the establishment of the WMU Business Technology and Research Park—has had a tremendous impact on our community's economy and has meant hundreds of new job in dozens of high-tech businesses.

Our deepest condolences go to his family for this loss, too early, of their loved one. We will focus in the coming days, months and years on honoring the special legacy of this University's sixth president."

Dr. Elson Floyd's tenure at WMU—1998 to 2003

Aug. 1, 1998

Dr. Elson S. Floyd becomes the sixth president of Western Michigan University

October 1998

WMU acquires 106 acres of Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital property, from the state, giving the University room for expansion and giving rise to a new Oakland Drive campus.

Jan. 22, 1999

After a months of lobbying and competing proposals from the cities of Kalamazoo and Battle Creek, Floyd selects Kalamazoo for a new engineering campus and research park, and makes WMU's aviation program in Battle Creek WMU's seventh college.

February 1999

Floyd and Vice President for Research Donald E. Thompson visit Carnegie Foundation headquarters in San Francisco to lay out WMU's case for Research II status.

Nov. 11, 1999

Ground is broken on the 265-acre parcel that was to become the Parkview Campus and include the new engineering complex and the Business Technology and Research Park.

Dec. 29, 1999

Michigan Gov. John Engler signs capital outlay funding for long-awaited College of Health and Human Services to be built on the Oakland Drive campus.

Feb. 4, 2000

Northwest Airlines donates a B747-100 to the College of Aviation, making WMU's the only aviation program in the world with such an aircraft for its education program.

Aug. 7, 2000

The Carnegie Foundation classifies WMU as a Doctoral/Research-Extensive University, making it one of only 102 public universities in the nation in that top category.

March 2001

Pres. George W. Bush visits WMU and lauds Floyd, saying, "He does a fabulous job for this important institution."

April 11, 2001

WMU named as base for two Michigan SmartZones—focused on the Business Technology and Research Park, the other on the College of Aviation.

Aug. 31, 2001

A $125 million fund-raising effort is launched around the theme Partnering for Success: The Centennial Campaign for WMU.

Jan. 9,  2002

Floyd announced the largest single gift to the University in WMU history—a $13 million bequest from artist Gwen Frostic.

Jan. 28, 2002

Wire-cutting ceremony marks completion of campuswide wireless computing system.

Feb. 12, 2002

Floyd named to President Bush's Advisory Board on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Oct. 11, 2002

Paper Coating Pilot Plant, the first element of the new engineering complex on the Parkview Campus is opened.

Oct. 25, 2002

WMU-Southwest opens on the campus of Lake Michigan College.

Nov. 13, 2002

The University of Missouri Board of Curators announces that Floyd will become the 21st president of the University of Missouri system.

Related article
Trustees vote to name WMU engineering facility for Elson S. Floyd | July 8, 2015