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Look through your Window to see what's great about Western

By Bruce Shepard | WWU president

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Since becoming the president of Western Washington University Sept. 1, I’ve been delighted to meet so many of you, members of the Western family. Traveling the state, I have been privileged to talk with and learn from alumni, donors, students and their families, lawmakers, newspaper editorial boards, and others. My wife, Cyndie, and I enjoyed helping some of your sons and daughters move into their new homes on campus with the start of fall quarter.

What I’ve learned so far is that Western is valued for excellence – excellence measured by the quality of the learning that our alumni demonstrate on the job, in graduate schools and as members of your communities.

I can’t help but be proud to be affiliated with a university with such an excellent reputation. You’ll be proud, too, when you meet some of the members of your Western family who are highlighted here in the new Window magazine.

We’ve given our old Window on Western alumni publication a new look, with stories about amazing people with whom you share a Western connection, from a Huxley grad who is responsible for the operations of an international airport to a group of student-athletes who won an unprecendented four consecutive rowing titles.

These stories also demonstrate some of the reasons why we’re known as the finest master’s-granting public university in the Pacific Northwest. But I’ve also learned from you that we strive to be even better.

Count me in: I was drawn to Western in part because of your stated goal of becoming the best public university of its kind in the nation. But we won’t get there by striving to be the state’s third research university – though our undergraduates routinely receive much better research experience than their “Big U” counterparts. We will get there by sticking to our core mission of academic excellence in the liberal arts, providing top-notch faculty, superior learning facilities and creative, student-involving research.

I haven’t been just listening to people the past few months. I also have been recording my thoughts. See for yourself by visiting my Web site at www.wwu.edu/president and read my Stakeholder Survey. Please be sure to share your own thoughts. Is Western fulfilling its promise? Where would you like to see us in the future?

Leadership in complex situations begins by asking questions, not just giving answers. That is the way we’ll figure out what our next steps are. If you want to know who I am as president, there’s no more fundamental point: I have questions, you have answers.

In the meantime, I hope this inaugural edition of the Window magazine encourages you to reflect on your special connection with Western. And tell me about those reflections. I can be reached at president@wwu.edu.