The magazine for Western Washington University

Reconnect at Back 2 Bellingham

Families and alumni gather this spring for Western's biggest annual celebration

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Back 2 Bellingham's big gathering will be in the Wilson Library reading room, with music, appetizers and locally produced beer and wine. | Photo by Mark Malijan (

Sidebar: Take a look at some of B2B's 100 events

Take a look at some of B2B's 100 events

How fun would college be if classes had no quizzes, the library included a bar and Red Square had a bouncy castle?

Find out at Back 2 Bellingham Alumni and Family Weekend May 13 to 15.

Now in its second year, Western’s biggest annual campus party includes more than 100 reunions, tours, celebrations, academic presentations and other opportunities for Vikings to reconnect with Western – and each other.

“Western is a special place with a lot of history,” says Chris Roselli (‘99), Western’s Alumni Association assistant director. “B2B is an annual event where the Western community can reconnect with one another while perhaps reliving a little bit of their own the Western experience.”

In addition to events for alumni and students, Back 2 Bellingham is also Western’s spring open house weekend for families. And there will be special offerings for prospective students and their families.

Both the colleges of Fine and Performing Arts and Business and Economics will celebrate their 35th anniversaries with receptions, performances, presentations and other events culminating in celebratory dinners.

The Vehicle Research Institute will mark its own 35th anniversary with an open house and five of its student-built cars on display. The Ethnic Student Center will celebrate its 20-year history with a reunion barbecue.

“A variety of departments are celebrating the retirements of some legendary professors,” Roselli says, including English Professor Bill Smith, Engineering

Technology Professor Steve Dillman and Physical Education, Health and Recreation Professor Ralph Vernacchia.

Some of Western’s most popular faculty members will offer “Classes without Quizzes” to showcase their work. Examples include “Laughter as Medicine and Food

for the Soul,” by Secondary Education Associate Professor Bob Keiper, “The Power of Belief,” by Vernacchia, “From Trash to Cash,” by Engineering Technology Professor Arunas Oslapas, and “Teaching Your Children about Money,” by Pam Whalley, director of the Economics Education Center at CBE.

But the big gathering will be in the Wilson Library reading room, with music, appetizers and locally produced beer and wine. And off-campus, excursions will include sailing and sea kayaking tours of Bellingham Bay, tours of local breweries, and a “Downtown Bellingham Bash.”

For youngsters, and the young-at-heart, the College of Fine and Performing Arts will host the Red Square Fun Zone,

including a bouncy castle and obstacle course, bungee run, face painters, music, and supervision by WWU students.

Last year, more than 1,500 alumni and family members attended Back 2 Bellingham. Roselli hopes to have more this year – including some repeat visitors.