Noémi Ban to get honorary doctorate

Western Today staff
Monday, February 11, 2013 - 12:14pm

[ Editor’s Note: After each Board of Trustees meeting, Western Today provides a recap of decisions and discussion. ]

The Board of Trustees on Feb. 8 approved awarding an honorary doctorate to Noémi Ban, a local resident and Holocaust survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp.

Ban has spoken many times on campus, sharing her stories with Western students (including on Feb. 19). She will be the winter quarter commencement speaker on March 23.

Ban retired as a teacher in 1989 so she could devote her time to educating students about the Holocaust. She is the author of the book “Sharing is Healing,” and her experiences are documented in the 2007 film “My Name is Noémi.” She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2010 Daughters of the American Revolution Americanism Award.

In other business, the trustees:

  • Heard a discussion on the many ways Western is reaching out in the Seattle area, including summer session in Seattle, internships, and other programs and partnerships. The discussion was led by Provost Catherine Riordan, Eileen Coughlin, senior vice president and vice president for Enrollment and Student Services, and Mark Bagley, senior director for Fundraising with the WWU Foundation.
  • Heard a presentation by former Congressman Brian Baird and Seattle attorney José Gaitán, citizen members of the Washington Student Achievement Council, on the council’s statewide listening tour and ideas on how to create an integrated, effective education system in the state of Washington.  The trustees provided significant feedback on the development of such a system and on the future of education in the state
  • Approved  awarding a construction contract for renovation of the Ridgeway Alpha residence hall.
  • Heard a presentation by Provost Riordan and Vice President Coughlin on how the university is recruiting and supporting students of color.
  • Were provided with a briefing on the 2013 legislative session by Sherry Burkey, associate vice president for University Relations.  Burkey provided an update on proposed legislative bills specific to higher education and information on key upcoming events in Olympia.
  • Received an update on the comprehensive campaign by Mark Brovak, senior director and chief operating officer (COO) of the Western Foundation.
  • Heard a presentation by Steve Swan, vice president of University Relations, on a proposed new program, “The Front Door to Discovery,” that would better connect Western students, faculty and staff to potential partners in Whatcom County and stimulate increased community, economic and social development in the area. The program would also make the community better aware of resources that are available and accessible to them at Western.


Noemi Ban, a Bellingham resident, award-winning teacher and survivor of the Holocaust, sits onstage at an April 27, 2011, ceremony held in her honor. File photo by Shea Taisey | Communications and Marketing intern