May 14, 2012
To honor Greg's commitment to The Cougar Football Project, WSU Athletics will name the club room located within the new stadium expansion the Rankich Club Room.
Born in Los Angeles, Rankich moved to Port Angeles in the late `80s and earned a BA in Business Administration from WSU in 1994 and his MBA from WSU in 1995.
Rankich is the President and CEO of Xtreme Consulting Group, a business and IT consulting firm based in Kirkland, Wash. He talked with Cougars Quarterly about how he formed his bond to WSU, his experiences as a student, and his donation to The Cougar Football Project.
CQ: What brought you to WSU?
Rankich: I grew up a UCLA Bruin fan and am still an L.A. sports fan. My original intent after moving up here was to go back to L.A. and be a Bruin. Right before my senior year in high school, me and one other from Port Angeles decided to go to the Wazzu football camp. We trucked over there and I just fell in love with Pullman and the idea of going to a university that is in a college town. I started thinking, `Hey, it might be actually pretty cool to go to WSU.' I applied, got accepted and ended up there. I was excited about it. I had been accepted to other universities but I had made my mind up that I was going to WSU.
CQ: What about Pullman did you fall in love with?
Rankich: I love Pullman. There is a sense of community and there a sense of closeness. My junior year I didn't have a key to my apartment and we never locked the door. We never worried about people coming in and stealing something. It's a sense of everybody looks after each other. It's a community. That kind of environment I love. I love that aspect of Pullman and you don't find that at universities across the country.
CQ: Was business and economics something you were always interested in or did you develop that interest when you got to WSU?
Rankich: I've been an entrepreneur since I was seven or eight years old. I used to buy boxes of candy, bring them to school and sell them. I had a lemonade stand and thought I should do more than lemonade so I started selling coffee and donuts in the morning. I had a huge booth that I put together and built. I was raised in a family where my dad owned a company and my mom had her own company. It was ingrained early on that I was going to do something in business. CQ: How did your time as a student at WSU shape you?
Rankich: There are a lot of things you learn in college. You learn the social aspect of building friendships and networking; that is a big part of it. I am still in contact with one of my professors (Jean Johnson) to this day. She drove me in terms of wanting to do cool things and really thinking about things differently. I learned to argue, question theories and beliefs, and try to draw a correlation between what I was being taught and what the real world does. It opened my eyes to looking at things differently. People always say the glass is half full or half empty. I always say the glass is the wrong size. For me, that is a different way of looking at it. It is one of the things I got out of college is to look at problems and figuring out a solution that's creative.
CQ: Glass is the wrong size?
Rankich: That's right. Everybody always say are you a half-full or half-empty person? I always say it's the wrong size. Get a different size of glass and it would be perfect.
CQ: What are your Gameday memories as a student?
Rankich: I loved the whole environment around Gameday. It's funny, looking back, the students had a lot better Gameday experience than the alumni. The fun is if you're in a fraternity, apartments, or wherever you're at, it's that build-up, the excitement, hanging out before the game, gametime, and the parties afterwards. It was a full-day experience and a lot of fun. As alumni we fly in or drive in and leave town, it's not as exciting. I think what Bill (Moos) and the athletic community are trying to do is bring back that gameday experience for everybody.
CQ: You have given back to numerous areas within WSU. What is your motivation to do that?
Rankich: There are a lot of things I'm passionate about, which I spend my time or money on. It's not just WSU but charities in Seattle that I'm involved in. There is an underlying theme that I'm drawn to. Number one is education. I'm a big believer in education and the educational experience. It is really important to me. When I was going through school I asked my parents not to support my education costs after my first year. I knew if I continued to be fully supported by my parents I was probably never going to get much out of school. I realized if I'm paying for it then I better work hard and get done quicker. It allowed me to focus more on getting done and getting good grades. Education is extremely important to me. It so happens I am an alum of WSU so they're going to get the majority of my education donations.
CQ: What was the motivation behind your gift to The Cougar Football Project?
Rankich: Regardless if you care about football or sports in general, a football program is the highest visibility program for most universities. Success raises the overall visibility. If you have success on the field it drives more research dollars, it drives more donations; drives more students wanting to go there; and drives the quality of students because now the university can be selective in who gets accepted and who doesn't. Everything raises when the football program does well. When Bill came to WSU he raised the visibility instantly. Because of his track record you knew the tide was going to start rising. That's one of the drivers for me. It's not just about WSU football, it's about raising the overall visibility of the program, which raises the visibility and viewpoint of the university.
CQ: So it was a donation directed to football for the benefit of the university?\
Rankich: Yes, and as part of the commitment I set aside an additional half a million dollars to the College of Business.
CQ: You touched on this but if you could address Cougars everywhere what would your message be?
Rankich: I hope my commitment to WSU compels other alumni to think long and hard about their own giving and what kind of impact they could have on WSU. In addition, I want to inspire current students to think about when they graduate what impact they could have on WSU, whether it be future students, the local community, and the world. You don't have to give a million dollars. You can give $50. It makes a difference.
CQ: Finally, what does it mean to you to be a Coug?
Rankich: I'm proud to be a Coug. I live and breathe WSU. I love the community. I love the school. I love the experience. I love the people who were there when I was there and who are there now. There's a sense of community. I talk about the city, the people, my professors, I could go on and on about WSU.