BOT recap: Trustees hear update on engineering and computer science

Paul Cocke
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 heard a presentation and update on engineering and computer science from Catherine Clark, dean of the College of Science and Engineering, Perry Fizzano, chair of the Department of Computer Science, and Jeff Newcomer, chair of the Department of Engineering and Design.

They discussed changes in the two departments over the last year due to funding from previous legislative decision packages, which has provided for increased access to the computer science major, and for the transition from engineering technology to engineering.

Due to Western successfully gaining more funding, both departments have hired more faculty and staff, allowing them to meet increasing student demand.

However, Clark noted the steep increase in Western students interested in majoring in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields and challenges in meeting that demand.

Several trustees also discussed the importance of encouraging increased diversity in STEM majors.

Trustees briefly discussed the announcement of President Shepard’s retirement as president of Western. Shepard announced on June 11 that he will retire at the close of the 2015-16 academic year. The trustees noted that the next academic year will offer many opportunities and challenges, and that they are thankful for Shepard’s continued leadership.

Board of Trustees Chair Karen Lee said that a national search for the new president will be conducted over the next year by Western’s trustees. Lee said she expected “many, many strong candidates” for the next Western president.

In other business, the trustees:

  • Heard a presentation on the role of intercollegiate athletics and club sports in the Western undergraduate experience. Bruce Larson, Intercollegiate Faculty Athletics representative, said that during 2014-15, approximately 300 students participated in 15 varsity sports at WWU, six for men and nine for women. WWU has been an official member of NCAA Division II since September 1998. Recently retired Campus Recreation Services Director Marie Sather described the university’s Sport Club program, which consisted of 24 teams with 752 students participating during the 2014-2015 season. Students Catherine Miles, a junior Chemistry major and member of the Women’s intercollegiate soccer team, and Lucas Marin, an Environmental Studies major and member of the club sport lacrosse team, described their many positive experiences as student-athletes.
  • Approved preliminary operating and capital budgets. If the Legislature approves state budgets before the end of the current special session, university administration will have WWU budget recommendations ready for the trustees to consider in a special meeting in July.
  • Approved mandatory student fees and academic program fees.
  • Recognized Western’s continuing success with prestigious student awards. Tom Moore, director of Western’s Fellowship Office, said that this year Western graduates and students have been chosen to receive received a number of national awards, including eight Fulbright Fellowship awards, two Hollings (NOAA) awards, six Gilman awards, three Research Experience for Undergraduate awards and four Teaching Assistance Program in France award winners.
  • Heard an update on the 2015 legislative session by Becca Kenna-Schenk, director of Government Relations. With the legislature in its second special session, she said the final state budgets – and funding to Western for the next two years – is still not decided.
  • Stephanie Bowers, vice president for University Advancement, provided an update on WWU’s comprehensive campaign, adding that the Western Stands for Washington Campaign had surpassed $54 million on its way to a $60 million goal.
  • Recognized the service of Lisa Wochos, assistant attorney general, who is retiring. Wochos has provided legal counsel to the Board of Trustees, president, vice presidents, faculty and staff since 2001.
  • Thanked outgoing Student Trustee Carly Roberts, who also previously served as Associated Students president, for her service to Western.
  • Thanked outgoing Associated Students President Annika Wolters for her service to Western.
  • Thanked outgoing Faculty Senate President Spencer Anthony-Cahill for his efforts with the Faculty Senate.

For more information on the trustees’ meeting, see: Meeting Materials.

Audio from the June 11 and June 12 meetings is available online.

The date for the next regular meeting of the Board of Trustees is Aug. 20.

Monday, June 15, 2015 - 2:44pm