Steve Swan to Retire as WWU Vice President for University Relations & Community Development

Western Today staff
Wednesday, March 16, 2016 - 12:03pm

Steve Swan 3.jpg

Steve Swan. Photo by Matthew Anderson / WWU
Steve Swan. Photo by Matthew Anderson / WWU

Steve Swan, vice president for University Relations and Community Development at Western Washington University, will retire from that position on Dec. 31, 2016.

“So much of what we now celebrate traces directly to Steve's quietly effective and always highly principled leadership:  our strengthened ties to the communities we are proud to call home; the effective communication of Western's outstanding excellence; our transition to and prominence in the utilization of modern video and social media, and the turnaround in legislative support for higher education and for Western,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.

“Steve is one of those people who multiplies the effectiveness of all with whom he serves: most assuredly me included.  For that I am so deeply grateful, Steve, my friend.  And I am thankful that Steve plans to serve through those critically important beginning months of the next president's transition to Western,” Shepard said.

Swan, who has been vice president for University Relations and Community Development at Western since 2008, said he decided to announce his retirement now to provide continuity during the first part of the administration of Western’s next president. Shepard will be retiring in June; a search is now nearing completion for his successor.  In forming search plans to fill this important vice president position, Shepard will coordinate with Western's president-designate once the Board of Trustees have decided on that presidential appointment.

“It is an honor to be a part of the Western community and a privilege to work with the exceptional people who are Western.  But I realize the time is right for me to move on to the next phase of my life and to do some of the things I have not had time to do,” Swan said.

“I am very blessed to be a part of an exceptional leadership team and to work for a great leader in President Bruce Shepard.  It is a joy to come to work every day and to work with the talented and dedicated people who make up the University Relations and Community Development division.  I am equally fortunate to work with outstanding leaders in our community and state, and appreciate the good work they all do on a daily basis.”

Western’s University Relations and Community Development includes internal and external marketing, communications, government relations, community relations, Web Communication Technologies and the Small Business Development Center. Swan is also responsible for special projects as assigned by the president, including WWU’s Western Crossing development on the waterfront in Bellingham.

Swan came to Western from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay where he was the assistant chancellor for University Advancement from 1995 to 2000 and again from 2004 to 2009. In between he was the president of Ultimate Sports Apparel of Green Bay, a company he founded in 2000. Before moving into administration, he was an assistant men’s basketball coach under former UW-Green Bay Head Coach Dick Bennett from 1985 to 1995. He was the sports information director, men’s basketball recruiter and an assistant football coach at UW-Stevens Point from 1977 through 1985. In 1976 he served as the press secretary to Congressman Robert J. Cornell in Washington, D.C. A native of De Pere, Wisconsin, Swan earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1976.

Swan, who is president-elect of the Board of Directors of the Whatcom Community Foundation and active in his church and other civic organizations, said he will continue living in Bellingham. He and his wife, Karen, a registered nurse in Western Health Services, have two daughters: Melissa (husband Ryan) Van Straten; she is the ELL curriculum coordinator in the Green Bay Public School System, and Kristin (husband Ross) Zimmerman; she is a graduate of Western Washington University and the office manager at Performance Health Northwest in Bellingham.


Steve Swan. Photo by Matthew Anderson / WWU