A WSU alumnus bringing more than 20 years of service to counties across Washington state, Murray takes over from outgoing director Chad Kruger, who has led the center since 2017.
“I see great opportunities to lead a team that integrates watershed science, production agriculture, urban landscape management, and human health in ways that can transform Puget Sound, Washington state, and the world,” Murray said.
Earning his master’s degree in entomology at WSU in 1996, Murray made his career in Extension, serving as a coordinator and educator in King and Whatcom counties, then director of Skamania and Klickitat County Extension. Since 2015, he has directed WSU Extension’s Agriculture and Natural Resource Program Unit, helping thousands of Washingtonians learn how to improve farm productivity, conserve natural resources, and protect crops, forests, and streams.
Leadership of a WSU research center was an ideal career progression for Murray, who was attracted by the meaningful issues and diverse communities served by Puyallup’s well-balanced mix of faculty, several of whom he has supervised or collaborated with in Extension. He’s doubly familiar with regional challenges through his entomological work, detecting and developing education for newly discovered insect pests.
“I am pleased to welcome Todd back to western Washington,” said André-Denis Wright, dean of the College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences. “For two decades, Todd has served WSU’s land-grant mission to bring research-based knowledge to every corner of our state, while growing as a dedicated leader. He is a natural fit to lead the Puyallup Research and Extension Center as it addresses some of the most pressing sustainability challenges we face, locally and globally.”
“Extension allowed me to partner with a wide range of people and interests, from immigrant farmers and Native American gardeners to tree fruit and wheat growers,” Murray said. “What excites me most about Puyallup is the chance to work more closely with diverse communities whose interests are based on issues of importance to society, such as protecting our watersheds and enhancing community health.”
An avid hiker who enjoys outdoor exploration with his wife, Jill, Murray is looking forward to immersing himself in the issues surrounding urban agriculture and the city’s imprint on the natural environment, while supporting the Center’s faculty, staff, and programs.
“I am excited for the chance to dream big with WSU Puyallup,” he said. “Times of change are opportunities for us to become better than we were before.”
Founded in 1894, Puyallup REC encompasses more than a dozen research and Extension programs, including the Washington Stormwater Center, the Low Impact Development (LID) Research Program, Organic Farming Systems and Nutrient Management programs, and the WSU Puyallup Plant and Insect Diagnostic Laboratory.
The Center includes faculty, staff, and graduate students from 11 academic departments; a 160-acre main campus with state-of-the-art labs and greenhouses; six acres of certified organic farmland; and 112 acres of research plots including turfgrass, berry breeding and disease, and poplar research at the R.L. Goss Farm.