Western Washington University

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Western Washington University
MottoActive Minds Changing Lives[1][2][3]
Established24 February 1893
EndowmentUS$26.8 million[4]
PresidentBruce Shepard[5]
ProvostBrent Carbajal[6]
Academic staff664 (Oct. 2012) [7]
Admin. staff1,098 (Oct. 2012)[7]
Students14,833 (2012) [8][9]
Undergraduates13,902 (2012)[9]
Postgraduates931 (2012)[9]
LocationBellingham, Washington, US
48°44′02″N 122°29′10″W / 48.734°N 122.486°W / 48.734; -122.486Coordinates: 48°44′02″N 122°29′10″W / 48.734°N 122.486°W / 48.734; -122.486
215 acres (87.0 ha)
Former names
  • Northwest Normal School
  • New Whatcom Normal School
  • State Normal School at Whatcom
  • Washington State Normal School at Bellingham
  • Western Washington College of Education
  • Western Washington State College
ColorsLight Blue Silver and White        [10]
AthleticsNCAA Division II
Great Northwest Athletic Conference
Sports15 Varsity Teams
MascotVictor E. Viking[11]
Western Washington University Logo.png
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Western Washington University
MottoActive Minds Changing Lives[1][2][3]
Established24 February 1893
EndowmentUS$26.8 million[4]
PresidentBruce Shepard[5]
ProvostBrent Carbajal[6]
Academic staff664 (Oct. 2012) [7]
Admin. staff1,098 (Oct. 2012)[7]
Students14,833 (2012) [8][9]
Undergraduates13,902 (2012)[9]
Postgraduates931 (2012)[9]
LocationBellingham, Washington, US
48°44′02″N 122°29′10″W / 48.734°N 122.486°W / 48.734; -122.486Coordinates: 48°44′02″N 122°29′10″W / 48.734°N 122.486°W / 48.734; -122.486
215 acres (87.0 ha)
Former names
  • Northwest Normal School
  • New Whatcom Normal School
  • State Normal School at Whatcom
  • Washington State Normal School at Bellingham
  • Western Washington College of Education
  • Western Washington State College
ColorsLight Blue Silver and White        [10]
AthleticsNCAA Division II
Great Northwest Athletic Conference
Sports15 Varsity Teams
MascotVictor E. Viking[11]
Western Washington University Logo.png
Western Washington University is located in Washington (state)
Western Washington University
Western Washington University, in Bellingham

Western Washington University (WWU or Western) is one of six state-funded, four-year universities of higher education in the U.S. state of Washington. It is located in Bellingham and offers bachelor's and master's degrees. Their mascot is the Viking.


Old Main

Western was established as the Northwest Normal School, a teachers' school for women, by Phoebe Judson in Lynden, Washington, in 1886.[12] Eventually the school moved to Bellingham (then "New Whatcom"), and through the efforts of William R. Moultray and George Judson (Phoebe's son),[13] Governor John 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.

The 1960s was a period of especially rapid growth for Western, as its enrollment increased from 3,000 students to over 10,000 during the decade. Also during this time, the Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies was founded (1967), with non-traditional education methods that would serve as a model for The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. Two years later, the Huxley College of the Environment, the nation's first dedicated environmental science college, was founded, continuing Western's trend toward "cluster" colleges. That same year, on a spring afternoon, students gained headlines by blocking Interstate 5 to protest the Vietnam War.

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.


Fisher Fountain

WWU's scenic location in Bellingham, a rapidly-growing city of about 80,000 people, overlooks Bellingham Bay and many of Puget Sound’s 172 San Juan Islands. The university is 90 miles (140 km) north of Seattle, 55 miles (89 km) south of Vancouver, British Columbia, and an hour’s drive from 10,778-foot (3,285 m) Mount Baker. The university is located close to Interstate 5.

Wilson Library

The campus is 215 acres (87.0 ha), including the 38-acre (15.4 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.[14] 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.

Sculpture collection[edit]

Photo by George Garrigues, 1970

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:

  1. "Rain Forest" (1959), by James FitzGerald
  2. "Totem" (1962), by Norman Warsinske
  3. "Wall Relief" (1962), by Norman Warsinske
  4. "Scepter" (1966), by Steve Tibbetts
  5. "Sky Viewing Sculpture" (1969), by Isamu Noguchi
  6. "Untitled Steam Work for Bellingham" (1971), by Robert Morris
  7. "Alphabeta Cube" (1972), by Fred Bassetti
  8. "The Man Who Used to Hunt Cougars for Bounty" (1972), by Richard Beyer
  9. "Log Ramps" (1974; 1987), by Lloyd Hamrol
  10. "For Handel" (1975), by Mark di Suvero
  11. "India" (1976), by Anthony Caro
  12. "Sasquatch" (1976), by Rod Pullar
  13. "Flank II" (1978), by Mia Westerlund Roosen
  14. "Garapata" (1978), by John Keppelman
  15. "Mindseye" (1978), by Mark di Suvero
  16. "Stone Enclosure: Rock Rings" (1978), by Nancy Holt
  17. "Curve / Diagonal" (1979), by Robert Maki
  18. "Normanno Column" (1980), by Beverly Pepper
  19. "Normanno Wedge" (1980), by Beverly Pepper
  20. "Wright's Triangle" (1980), by Richard Serra
  21. "Untitled Box" (1982), by Donald Judd
  22. "Bayview Station" (1987), by George Trakas
  23. "The Islands of the Rose Apple Tree Surrounded by the Oceans of the World for You, Oh My Darling" (1987), by Alice Aycock
  24. "Two-part Chairs, Right Angle Version (A Pair)" (1987), by Scott Burton
  25. "Untitled" (1989), by Ulrich Rückriem
  26. "Untitled" (1990), by Meg Webster
  27. "Manus" (1994), by Magdalena Abakanowicz
  28. "Feats of Strength" (1999), by Tom Otterness
  29. "Stadium Piece" (1999), by Bruce Nauman
  30. "Bigger Big Chair" (2006), by David Ireland
  31. "the islands"


Academic organization[edit]

Western offers bachelor's degrees and the degrees of Master of Arts, Master of Science, Master of Education, Master of Arts in Teaching, Master of Business Administration, Master of Professional Accounting, and Master of Music. The university is composed of the following colleges:

Parks Hall, Home of the College of Business and Economics.
Chemistry Building


The university is accredited by the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities; National Association of Schools of Music;[15] National Recreation and Parks Association; American Speech and Hearing Association; National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education;[16] Computing Sciences Accreditation Board; Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology;[17] American Chemical Society;[18] Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business;[19] and the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.[20]



In 2011, US News ranked Western Washington University third in the Regional Public Universities (West) category,[23] "a region stretching from Texas to the Pacific,"[24] while placing 21st overall in the West (both public and private).[25] 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.[26]

Western Washington University ranks second among the top medium-sized colleges and universities with alumni serving as Peace Corps volunteers in 2011.[27]

Notable degree programs[edit]

Research institutes and laboratories[edit]

College of Business and Economics[edit]

College of Humanities and Social Sciences[edit]

College of Science and Technology[edit]

Huxley College of the Environment[edit]


Collaboration with other Universities[edit]


WWU Vikings

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 2010 NCAA graduation rate study showed that 69 percent of Western student-athletes receive their degrees in six years or less based on the Federal Graduation Rate formula, a rate the same as that of the full student body. This is 13 percentage points higher than the average for NCAA Division II schools nationally and 15 points higher than the average for the nine U.S. schools in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. Using the NCAA Academic Success Rate, which includes all freshman student-athletes from the fall of 2003 and also accounts for student-athletes who transfer into or out of the institution, Western posted an 85 percent success rate, compared to the NCAA II national number of 73 percent. The average ASR of the nine U.S. GNAC schools was 77 percent.

Varsity sports[edit]

The Viking field varsity teams in the following sports: Cross Country (Men's and Women's), Soccer (Men's and Women's), Volleyball (Women's), Golf (Men's and Women's), Basketball (Men's and Women's), Softball, Track & Field (Men's and Women's), Rowing (Women's)

WWU won the 2011-12 NCAA Division II men’s basketball national championship, just the second collegiate crown in that sport in state of Washington history and the first since 1976. WWU reached the national semifinals in men's basketball in 2001 and women's basketball in 2000. WWU ranks among the top 15 in women’s basketball victories among all four-year schools with that program making 12 NCAA tournament appearances in 13 years.

Wade King Student Recreation Center

Other accomplishments include:

Club sports[edit]

Lacrosse, baseball, men's crew, cross-country, cycling (road, mountain, track, cyclo-cross), equestrian (English and Western), fencing, ice hockey, Formula SAE Racing, Baja SAE Racing, judo, rugby, sailing, swimming, tennis, water polo, Northwest grappling, Water Ski Team, Ultimate.

The WWU Water Ski Team took 3rd place at the 31st Collegiate Water Ski National Championships, Oct. 22-24[when?] hosted by Cal Poly in Arvin, Calif.[56] Individual achievements include: Carl Skerlong, 5th place in Mens Division II jump with 121 ft; Aly Howisey, 4th Place Women's Division II jump with 64 ft.

Men's Hockey[edit]

The Men's Hockey team was founded in 1980. The team has competed in the National Association of Intercollegiate Hockey (NAIH) since the 2011-12 season, and previously played in the American College Hockey Association (ACHA) from 1997 to 2010.

In the 2009-2010 season, WWU finished with the best win percentage in the nation with 22 wins, 1 loss, and 1 shootout loss.[57] Western Captain Jeff Bulger finished the season second overall in points with 97 in 22 games. The Vikings repeated this feat 2010-2011, recording the highest winning percentage in the nation among ACHA Division II schools with an overall record of 23 wins, 5 losses, and 1 shootout loss,[58] including victories over nationally ranked opponents San Jose State University (3), and the University of Washington (13).[59]

WWU joined the inaugural 2011-12 season of the NAIH. Western finished the 2011-12 season with 23 wins and 2 losses, and ranked #1 in the league.[60] The season was all inter-league play (NAIH/ACHA) and included winning records against the PAC-8 Champions #10 University of Washington (2-0-0) and Boise State University (3-0-0), and splitting with the University of Oregon (1-1-0).[61]

The Western Vikings won the 2012-13 NAIH National Championship with a 2-1 decision in overtime against the LeMoyne College Dolphins. All star forward Derek Binder scored the overtime winning goal.[62]

Notable alumni of the team include Mike Bahn, who was Strength and Conditioning Coordinator for the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes from 2005-2012.[63]

Men's Lacrosse[edit]

The WWU Men's Lacrosse team competes in the Pacific Northwest Collegiate Lacrosse League (PNCLL) Division 2 league with teams such as Western Oregon, Gonzaga, Pacific Lutheran, Whitman and Central Washington. Western has been considered one of the premier lacrosse club teams in the Northwest.[citation needed] In 2007 the Vikings made their first National Tournament appearance, losing to Harding University in the first round 13-10. The Vikings again made the tourney in 2010, losing to #5 Davenport University of Michigan in the first round 11-9. The Vikings have qualified for the playoffs the last 7* seasons never winning the PNCLL title. In 2011, WWU was banned from the PNCLL playoffs because of a University imposed sanction.[64]

Men's Rugby[edit]

Founded in 1955, the WWU Men's Rugby Club competes in Division 1 of college rugby in the western division of the Northwest Collegiate Rugby Conference against local rivals Washington, Oregon and Western Oregon. The Vikings are led by Head Coach Paul Horne, former Canadian national coach.[65] Western Washington has increased its commitment to its rugby program, and with increased alumni support, the program has achieved "almost-varsity" status on campus.[66] As a result, the Vikings rugby team is "a program on the rise,"[67] and broke into the Top 25 national ranking in March 2013.[68] The Vikings reached the semifinals of the 2003 D1-AA playoffs.

The Vikings have also been successful in rugby sevens, with wins over rivals Washington and Washington State. The Vikings played in the 2011 and 2012 USA Rugby Sevens Collegiate National Championships, finishing 13th in the nation in 2011.[65]

Associated Students of Western Washington University (ASWWU)[edit]

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."[69] 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."[69] 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.[69]

Notable faculty[edit]

Honorary doctorates[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]


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External links[edit]