The magazine for Western Washington University

Message from the President

‘Community Conversations’ engage us in transformation

By Bruce Shepard | WWU President

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Bruce Shepard | Photo by Martin Waidelich

So often I am impressed by the remarkable accomplishments of our Western community.

A few of our alumni achievements – including Bill Wright’s historic golf prowess and Dave Bennink’s pioneering a new green deconstruction industry – are well chronicled on these pages. Or read about the exciting and potentially life-saving research being conducted at the university’s Behavioral Neuroscience Program.

More and more people are convinced of Western’s academic quality, buoyed as it is by our unswerving dedication to undergraduate education. It is readily apparent to me that Western offers the best public undergraduate education in the Pacific Northwest and among the best of both private and public colleges throughout the entire West. Our aim is to be even better, to stand out among public master’s-granting universities throughout the entire nation. How do we get there?

To get feedback on that and related questions, Western has begun an effort titled “100 Community Conversations.” The initiative, funded through the generosity of Jack and Jo Ann Bowman, is a way to engage alumni, parents, civic and business leaders, philanthropists and community members in talking about the future of WWU. Conversations will be held across Washington and in select out-of-state locations.

Why is this important to do now? Our world is changing. The global economy, climate change, increasing diversity of our cultures, technological innovation and advances are transforming the world around us. Western, like all higher education institutions, will have to transform to meet the needs of the state and the communities of people who make up the “public” in public education.

As a university community we are working very hard to discuss and comprehend the forces at work in our society and in higher education. With that knowledge we can even better lead Western to become the premier university of its kind in the nation. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me on this and other issues related to Western at my e-mail address, I look forward to hearing from you.