Opinion

Our Voice: Thanks and best wishes to PNNL’s retiring Mike Kluse

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is important to this community. It is our region’s largest single employer. The lab’s health is an important indicator of the community’s well-being. But we also are interested in Mike Kluse as a community contributor and individual.

When he retires at the end of this month as director for the national laboratory, he will be missed. We’re glad to see he plans to stay in the Tri-Cities. We’re sure to see more of him in the future, so this isn’t really a farewell. We do, however, want to take this occasion to say thanks.

His contributions to the lab and community are well documented, but here’s what people who have worked with him have to say:

“Mike Kluse is one of the top leaders in the history of national laboratories, as witnessed by the strategic growth of PNNL during his tenure as well as the top rating achieved under his leadership. He is a champion for education and has lead innovative partnerships with WSU and Delta High School. He will be truly missed by the community.” — Keith Moo-Young, chancellor, Washington State University Tri-Cities

“Mike’s commitment to building the REACH has been unwavering. Today, because of his support, we have a wonderful new institution that not only tells the stories of our community, but serves as a center for special celebrations.” — Lisa Toomey, Reach center CEO

“Mike Kluse leaves an unparalleled legacy of growth at PNNL in terms of new buildings and budget. He has all the qualities you would hope for of the PNNL director and community leader, but what sets Mike apart is that he is a genuinely nice guy. Someone that relates well to everyone, that everyone likes and that everyone will miss.” — Carl Adrian, TRIDEC President

“No one will ever know the complete impact Mike Kluse has had on our community and across the state. He advocated for the Tri-Cities and for K-12 education from Columbus to Seattle. As a partner in launching Delta High School, Mike was a joy to work with as we tackled and overcame every obstacle we encountered. It's been an honor to work alongside him on the Delta project. The Tri-Cities and the state of Washington will miss his leadership.” — Saundra Hill, Pasco School Superintendent

“I had the opportunity to work closely with Mike on several community-based committees and his service to the community, passion and vision for the Tri-Cities’ success was unmatched. Mike was all about partnerships and collaborations. There is no ‘flash’ or ‘flamboyance’ with Mike. He is truly a humbled leader, a humanitarian, a ‘doer’ and exhibited a strong commitment in making the Tri-Cities community one of the best places to live in the nation.” — Rufus Friday, publisher of the Lexington Herald-Leader, former publisher of the Tri-City Herald

On interesting piece of trivia about Kluse is that he has only applied for one job with Battelle, which operates the lab for the Department of Energy — and that was 38 years ago. Every other job he’s held with Battelle was because he was sought out to replace someone who was leaving, or to improve the performance of a group. That speaks highly of him — as do his actions.

Thanks, Mike.

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