Board of Trustees recap for Dec. 12 and 13

Western Today staff

[ Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly listed Professor Emeritus Bob Monohan's area of expertise. It is geography. ]


Trustees Discuss Liberal Arts in the University of the Future

Western’s Board of Trustees on Thursday, Dec. 12, met with the Western Foundation Board for an interactive discussion on “Liberal Arts in the University of the Future.” The discussion was led by Provost Brent Carbajal.

Associate Professor of History Johann Neem, first-year student Katie Thompson and Taylor Snyder, who graduated Saturday, placed the topic in perspective by discussing their fall quarter history class “Going to College in America.”

Trustees and Foundation board members expressed strong support for liberal arts education as a core basis for Western academic excellence, not only today but going forward into the future. Foundation board member John Warner, a retired Boeing executive, said that employers value a strong liberal arts education.

“A liberal arts education opens doors for me, and I think a lot of Western students feel that way,” said Western student trustee Heather Flaherty.

Trustee Dennis Madsen noted that the speed of change in today’s society necessitates the ability to think critically about a broad range of complex issues, which a liberal arts education develops in students. And Trustee Dick Thompson said that liberal arts education provides intrinsic value beyond vocational attainment, including appreciation for the arts and the richness of life.

In other business, the trustees:

  • Heard, during the public comment period, from several classified staff employees, members of the Public School Employees of Washington (PSE) labor union, who thanked the trustees for recent improvements in wages but urged additional efforts to improve compensation. With a supportive group of fellow PSE members in attendance, they noted the importance of classified workers in providing a campus culture of excellence for students, cited morale issues, and said more needed to be done to retain classified workers as well as greater efforts to recognize and value their contributions to the university. Board Chair Peggy Zoro thanked the speakers for bringing their concerns forward and several trustees later stated the need for the administration and trustees to take the comments into consideration in future related discussions.
  • Heard a presentation by Mark Greenberg, dean of Western Libraries, on the library’s innovative Digital Commons.
  • Heard a presentation by Steve Swan, vice president for University Relations and Community Development, and Dan Purdy, College of Business and Economics faculty member and Front Door to Discovery director, on the achievements thus far of the program, including the highly successful Bellingham Startup Weekend.
  • Heard a presentation by Sarah Clark-Langager, director of the Western Gallery, of three new art projects selected to be installed on campus. The three projects have been approved by the University Art Advisory Board and presented to President Bruce Shepard. The trustees approved the president’s recommendation on the selection and location of work by Claude Zervais in the College of Fine and Performing Arts lobby; a work by Rebecca Cummins and Paul DeMarinis in Miller Hall and two sculptures by Cris Bruch in the lobby of the Communications Building.
  • Were provided with information about a possible remodel and expansion of the Edens North residence hall.
  • Heard a presentation on the university planning and budget process.
  • Heard an update on WWU Foundation fund raising by Joseph Hunter, senior director of Development for the Foundation.
  • Received a briefing on the 2014 supplemental legislative session and about activities and initiatives that have been taking place the past several months leading into the session.
  • Recognized Geology Professor Scott Linneman, 2013 Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching Washington Professor of the Year.
  • During a dinner Thursday, recognized the significant contributions to the university by Bob Monahan, Geography professor emeritus and early supporter for Western’s Canadian-American studies; Al Froderberg, who has served Western in many ways, including as vice president, provost and acting president, and former Western faculty member Thad Spratlen.
  • During a luncheon on Thursday, heard a presentation by Assistant Psychology Professor Jeff Carroll on his research and the Behavioral Neuroscience program.

For more information on the trustees’ meeting, see:
The dates for the next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees are Feb. 6 and 7, 2014.

Monday, December 16, 2013 - 2:33pm
File photo by Matthew Anderson / WWU

File photo by Matthew Anderson / WWU