Sulkin to retire as marine center director

Monday, October 22, 2012 - 9:26am
Western Today staff

Shannon Point Marine Center at WWU

Stephen Sulkin will be retiring as professor and director of Western Washington University’s Shannon Point Marine Center.

“Dr. Sulkin's contributions to Western have been many. I would go so far as to say that Western is a different -- and much better -- place because of Dr. Sulkin's superlative work. The record of uninterrupted funding from the National Science Foundation and receiving a presidential award for excellence in mentoring are just two of the many examples of success the marine center has enjoyed under his leadership,” said Western Provost Catherine Riordan.

Sulkin, who has been professor and director at Shannon Point Marine Center since 1985, will retire next summer, with his successor starting next fall. A national and international search for his successor will begin early next year.

“It has been a great honor to serve the university and contribute especially to development of the marine sciences at Western over the past 28 years. The achievements of Shannon Point Marine Center over that time are a testament to the hard work and excellence of the faculty and staff who I have been privileged to work with, and to the support from the university that I have been fortunate to receive throughout my tenure as director,” Sulkin said.

Asked to identify his most significant accomplishments as SPMC director, Sulkin pointed to his helping secure $4.9 million for the Marine Education Center facility constructed at SPMC in 2006, his obtaining continuous funding from the National Science Foundation since 1991 for the SPMC Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site and Multicultural Initiatives in Marine Science: Undergraduate Participation programs, and the implementation in 2012 of the WWU Marine Science Scholars program that successfully recruits high-performing students to the university from around the nation. Sulkin also represented SPMC at a White House ceremony in 2003 at which the marine center received the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Math and Engineering mentoring.

Sulkin received his undergraduate degree in Zoology from Miami University (OH) and doctorate in Marine Biology from Duke University (1971). He came up through the professoriate ranks at the University of Maryland, where he served as the first Head of the Horn Point Environmental Laboratories from 1976-1982. He assumed his present position as SPMC director in 1985 and will have served in that role for 28 years.

In addition to his administrative role at Shannon Point, he has served WWU in a variety of capacities, including as acting provost and vice president for Academic Affairs in 1993, as chair of search committees for two deans of the College of Science & Technology and for a provost/academic vice president, and as a committee member on three other provost searches and a dean search. He also chaired a task force that created a White Paper on the Role of Graduate Education at WWU.

During his tenure at WWU, Sulkin has obtained grants from external funding agencies totaling more than $4.6 million, mostly in support of academic programs and instrumentation/equipment at SPMC.
Sulkin’s professional interests have included research on the behavior and nutritional ecology of the early life history stages of crab species. He has published 55 papers in refereed scientific journals and is considered an expert in the laboratory cultivation, behavior and nutritional ecology of larval crabs. Prior to coming to SPMC, he co-led a team of scientists in the Chesapeake/Delaware Bay complex who conceived and demonstrated a new model for recruitment of the blue crab, a principal commercial species in the region.
He served as U.S. Editor of the international scientific journal Estuarine Coastal and Shelf Sciences for 17 years while at WWU. He also served as president of the Western Association of Marine Laboratories in 1994.

Sulkin and his wife Shelley, a science teacher at Whatcom Middle School, will continue to reside in Bellingham upon their retirements.