BOT Recap for Oct. 8 and 9: Trustees hear about programs that promote a healthy campus

Western Today staff

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

Western’s Board of Trustees on Oct. 8 heard presentations on University programs that promote a healthy campus.

On Sept. 29, Western was announced as a winner of the 2015 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award, which recognizes the University as one of the healthiest campuses in the nation.

The trustees heard from administrators and students involved with two of the programs recognized as part of the national award: the Best Self health promotion campaign, and BRAVE, Western’s comprehensive suicide-prevention program that uses an upstream awareness approach to create a culture of caring for all students and across all cultural and demographic groups on campus.

Catharine Vader, registered nurse/Wellness Outreach Center coordinator, described Best Self to the trustees, saying that students, staff and faculty across campus, from groundskeepers to graduate students to full professors, have been both leading and participating in workshops to engage with the inclusive, simple, and flexible model. A student told trustees how practicing the model had helped him stay positive while improving his grades in the face of challenges. “Best Self focuses on what makes us great, what makes us thrive,” Vader said.

Farrah Greene-Palmer, Suicide Prevention Project manager, described how BRAVE uses “upstream” prevention methods – addressing students’ needs when they report emotional distress and not only at the point when they are in crisis. BRAVE initiatives include: providing an online training tool for faculty, paraprofessional student leaders and students; developing and hosting campus-wide suicide/mental health awareness events; and promoting Western’s values as a caring and supportive community. “Suicide prevention is a campus wide effort,” Greene-Palmer said.

In a separate presentation on Thursday, Nick Sanchez, Employment Inclusion manager and co-chair for the President’s Taskforce on Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, described the new initiative Campus Equity and Inclusion Forum.

Sanchez, coordinator of the forum, described the initiative, which offers a training series for WWU faculty and staff to empower them to better understand and thoughtfully engage with the experiences and identities of all of Western's community members.

As a kickoff to the initiative, Michael Benitez Jr., a national speaker on inter-cultural communication with extensive experience in education and diversity issues, will speak from 2 to 4 p.m. Oct. 15 in the Wilson Library Reading Room on the Western Washington University campus. The event is free and open to all.

Several trustees expressed strong support for the programs described on Thursday, saying they all in different ways promote a campus culture of well-being and success.

In other business, the trustees:

  • Heard an update by Trustee Sue Sharpe, chair of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee, on the search for a new university president. The 14-member committee will assist the Board of Trustees in conducting a national search and screen process for Western’s next president.  The Committee will represent a broad range of stakeholders, including faculty, staff, students, and the broader off-campus community.  Nominations from faculty, student, and staff governance groups will be submitted on Oct. 15.  The Committee will be appointed and charged by the Board of Trustees at a special meeting on Nov. 2. For more information see the Presidential Search website.
  • Associated Students President Belina Seare told the trustees that the AS has been actively involved in encouraging students to apply to be on the Presidential Search Advisory Committee. Likewise, Faculty Senate President Molly Ware said faculty nominations are being actively sought for the search committee.
  • Approved Trustee Earl Overstreet to serve as board secretary to fill the remainder of former Trustee Phil Thompson’s term.
  • During a Friday breakfast, recognized Opening Convocation Award Winners: Don Alper, Outstanding Faculty Leadership Award recipient; Margaret Gegenhuber, Outstanding Classified Staff Award recipient; Casey Hayden, Professional Staff Organization Award recipient; Marie Eaton, Diversity Achievement Award recipient; Heather Davidson, Carl H. Simpson Bridging Award recipient; Vernon Damani Johnson, Philip E. Sharpe Jr., Community Engagement Award recipient; Institute for Energy Studies Team, Team Recognition Award recipients.
  • Heard an update by Earl Gibbons, vice provost for Extended Education, on a proposal for the possible transfer of ownership of the Poulsbo Marine Science Center to Western. Gibbons said that no decision has been made and that the University is thoroughly reviewing the proposal, which could enhance Western’s presence in Poulsbo. In partnership with Olympic College in Poulsbo, Western on the Peninsulas offers four-year degrees, free educational lectures, local literature book groups and Continuing Education courses. Gibbons also briefed the trustees on the status of the University Center of North Puget Sound. A ground-breaking for the Center in Everett was held Sept. 22. The new facility will be operated by Washington State University, but Western Washington University continues to be the largest of the eight university partners sharing the facility, both in terms of enrollment and number of employees.
  • President Shepard introduced Karen Dade, associate dean of Woodring College of Education, as the University’s first Presidential Leadership Fellow.
  • Approved a resolution thanking the faculty, staff and students whose effective teamwork along with restoration contractor Belfor made it possible for the reopening of the Chemistry Building after an Aug. 25 fire in time for the start of fall classes Sept. 24. “To have that building ready for students in time for fall quarter was an amazing feat,” said Board of Trustees Chair Karen Lee.
  • Stephanie Bowers, vice president for University Advancement, provided an update on WWU’s comprehensive campaign, adding that the Western Stands for Washington Campaign had reached more than $58 million on its way to a $60 million goal.
  • Eileen Coughlin, senior vice president and vice president of Enrollment and Students Services, provided an update on fall opening, including enrollment and the many activities that welcome students to campus for the start of the academic year.
  • For more information on the trustees’ meeting, see: Meeting Materials.

The date for the next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees is Dec. 10 and 11.

Monday, October 12, 2015 - 11:15am