Western was established as the Northwest Normal School, a teachers' school for women, by Phoebe Judson in Lynden, Washington, in 1886. Eventually the school moved to Bellingham (then "New Whatcom"), and through the efforts of William R. Moultray and George Judson (Phoebe's son),GovernorJohn McGraw signed legislation establishing the New Whatcom Normal School on February 24, 1893. The first official class entered in 1899, composed of 88 students.
The institution that is now Western Washington University has since undergone several name changes. In 1901, the school's name was changed to State Normal School at Whatcom to reflect New Whatcom's name change. Again, in 1904, the name was changed to Washington State Normal School at Bellingham when the townships of Whatcom and Fairhaven joined, and again in 1937, to Western Washington College of Education when it became a 4-year college. Twenty-four years later it became Western Washington State College and finally, in 1977, the institution gained university status.
Since this period, the College of Arts and Sciences was founded (1973) and divided into the College of Humanities & Social Sciences and the College of Sciences & Technology (2003); the College of Fine and Performing Arts was formed from several art departments (1975); and the College of Business and Economics was established (1976). During the 1999–2000 school year, Western celebrated its Centennial.
Today, WWU has a major presence in Bellingham's economy, and contributes significantly to the political, social, and artistic aspects of the city. With a student body that currently consists of over 14,000 students, the university is the third largest in Washington after Washington State University at about 26,000 students and the University of Washington at about 43,000 students both undergraduate and graduate.
The campus is 215 acres (87 ha), including the 38-acre (15 ha) Sehome Arboretum, operated jointly with the city of Bellingham. Campus facilities include an electronic music studio, an air pollution lab, a motor vehicle research lab, a marine research lab, a wind tunnel, an electron microscope, and a neutron generator lab. Western's Vehicle Research Institute has led Automobile Magazine to describe Western as "very possibly the best school in the country for total car design." Western also has off-campus facilities at Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes, Washington; Lakewood, a 15-acre (6.1 ha) student-university facility at nearby Lake Whatcom; and Whatcom County property used for environmental and aquatic analyses.
WWU's prized collection of outdoor and indoor public art sculptures is a major presence on its campus. The collection, funded by the Washington State Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, and private donations, includes 30 works:
High-achieving freshmen from colleges in other western states can enroll at Western at a reduced tuition level that is equivalent to a $30,000 four year scholarship.
The undergraduate honors program offers merit scholarships worth up to $5,000. These scholarships are awarded to successful applicants to the honors program. No separate application is necessary.
In 2011, US News ranked Western Washington University third in the Regional Public Universities (West) category, "a region stretching from Texas to the Pacific," while placing 21st overall in the West (both public and private). Western was one of only two public schools ranked among the top 25 Master’s-Granting Universities (West) category. The universities found in this ranking are schools that lack doctoral programs but still retain master's programs. It has a 72% acceptance rate.
Western Washington University ranks second among the top medium-sized colleges and universities with alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers in 2011.
The Philosophical Gourmet Report mentions Western as having one of the nation's best philosophy departments among colleges and universities that only offer a B.A. in the discipline. Western was among only seven public universities so honored.
BS in Industrial Technology, Vehicle Design at the Vehicle Research Institute. Western Washington University’s Vehicle Research Institute (VRI) strives to offer the best total car design curriculum in the world. The program focuses on complete vehicle design and fabrication with special emphasis on: power plants, including alternative fuels; transmissions; cats; chassis design; and component materials.
The Center for Canadian American Studies at Western Washington University is one of only two U.S. Department of Education designated National Resource Centers for the study of Canada in the United States.
Huxley College of the Environment, founded in 1969, was the first College dedicated to the study of environmental science and policy in the nation.
WWU has been an official member of NCAA Division II since September 1998. In 2011-12, approximately 350 students are participating in 15 varsity sports at Western, six for men and nine for women. In 2010-11, WWU placed seventh among 310 NCAA Division II schools in the Sports Director’s Cup national all-sports standings, the second-highest finish in school history. The Vikings were sixth in 2009-10 and 10th in 2008-09. WWU has had eight straight Top 50 finishes and been among the Top 100 in each of its first 13 seasons as a NCAA II member.
In 2010-11, Western won its third straight and seventh overall Great Northwest Athletic Conference All-Sports championship, taking league titles in volleyball, men’s golf and women’s golf, and the regular-season crown in women’s basketball. The Vikings, who won the Northwest Collegiate Rowing Conference championship, placed second in men’s and women’s cross country, men’s and women’s outdoor track, men’s indoor track and softball.
The Viking field varsity teams in the following sports:
Associated Students of Western Washington University (ASWWU)
The Associated Students of Western Washington University (ASWWU) is "an organization designed and run by Western students, the Associated Students (AS) seeks to ensure a fulfilling college and academic experience for all university students through the many services, facilities and programs it offers." Within ASWWU, there are five main areas of focus: clubs, activities, programs, facilities & services, and governance.
The AS aims to provide "funding, space and services" to students "uniting around common interests." The AS staff assist student development of clubs and provide advising, "continuity, referral and record keeping" throughout the entire process. Currently there are over two hundred student clubs in the following categories: Arts and Music, Cultural, Political, Special Interest, Gaming, Social Issues, Departmental, Limited Membership, Service, Religious, and Recreational.
This article's list of alumni may not follow Wikipedia's verifiability or notability policies. Please improve this article by removing names that do not have independent reliable sources cited within this article showing they are notable and alumni or by incorporating the relevant publications into the body of the article through appropriate citations.(December 2010)