Alumni Conversations: We're focused on two initiatives to advance Western's goals of access and inclusive success

'I invite you to engage with us as we partner with the University on these two transformational projects.'
Kim O'Neill

Although it seems like the school year just began, the reality is that in three short months our 2022 graduates will be walking across the stage in Carver Gym to receive their diploma and join the ranks of WWU Alumni. And soon after, a brand-new class of Vikings will begin their Western journey.

To prepare for their arrival, the University Advancement division—inclusive of the WWU Foundation and WWU Alumni Association—is focused on two key initiatives of the University. Each is critical to Western’s long-term strategic plan and its goal to advance Western through access and inclusive success.

The Advanced Technology Engineering and Computer Science Building, to be known as Kaiser Borsari Hall, will be the only carbon neutral academic facility in the region, be among a handful in the nation, and significantly advance Western’s vision to become the region’s first carbon neutral university campus. The building will support enhanced programs in Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Energy Science and Technology. These programs respond to the specialized needs of advanced technology industries in our region and fill a special niche in the continuum of STEM education infrastructure in our state.

Another building initiative, a longhouse, will serve as a gathering and ceremonial space for Native American students as well as Coast Salish tribal nations and community members throughout the Salish Sea region. It will nurture American Indian and First Nations students, faculty, and staff by providing a dedicated space to gather, build community, and support each other. The longhouse will serve as a “House of Healing” to acknowledge the past traumas and distress of long-standing racial injustices affecting Native American peoples. And it will honor the land we live and learn upon and respect the peoples who lived and learned upon it first.

I invite you to engage with us as we partner with the University on these two transformational projects. As we look to the future, we are excited to support the top priorities of Western, priorities that will enhance learning, prepare graduates for high-demand jobs, and support a sense of place.

P.S. University Advancement is in the planning stages of a scholarship campaign to make a Western education more accessible and affordable. Look for more information in the next issue of Window.

Kim O'Neill is Western's vice president of University Advancement, executive director of the WWU Alumni Association and president and CEO of the WWU Foundation

architectural rendering of a Coast Salish longhouse
Coast Salish longhouse