Bruce Shepard Timeline

Story by Mary Gallagher

July 2008

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Bruce and Cyndie Shepard react moments after Bruce Shepard was appointed president of Western in 2008

Bruce Shepard becomes Western’s 13th president.


September 2008

During his first Convocation address Shepard talks about transformative power of education, a key topic of many of his remarks during his presidency:

“Our nation has progressed because each generation — several times only after major political struggle — has made the sacrifices necessary to assure that the next generation is better educated. Yet there are indications that that trend is slowing if not reversing. And, is it mere coincidence that that is occurring precisely at the time when those we must more effectively serve — those whose populations are growing most rapidly — have cultures and skin colors different from the traditional norm in American higher education?”

January 2009

Shepard makes the difficult decision to end Western’s football program in order to ensure the high quality of Western’s Athletics program.

October 2009

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October 2009 About 800 fifth-graders visit Western on the first Compass 2 Campus tour day. Those first students are scheduled to begin their senior years in high school this fall — and C2C mentors have been visiting their classrooms ever since.

About 800 fifth-graders visit Western on the first Compass 2 Campus tour day. Those first students are scheduled to begin their senior years in high school this fall — and C2C mentors have been visiting their classrooms ever since.


Shepard launches the 100 Conversations listening tour, what it means to be a “publicly purposed university.”

“I believe that a culture of relentless questioning and innovation will distinguish those publicly purposed universities that emerge as national leaders.”

May 2010

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May 2010 Back2Bellingham Alumni and Family Weekend becomes Western’s biggest community gathering on campus.

​Back2Bellingham Alumni and Family Weekend becomes Western’s biggest community gathering on campus.


July 2010

A student team from Western’s Vehicle Research Institute makes it to the finals of the Progressive Automotive X Prize finals in a competition to build a 100 mpg car.

December 2010

Western’s 100,000th degree recipient graduates.

May 2011

Western wins its seventh-straight NCAA Division II National Championship in women’s rowing.

September 2011

Miller Hall reopens after $51.5 million renovation, which receives LEED Gold Certification.

March 2012

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Western wins the NCAA Division II National Championship in men’s basketball.

Western wins the NCAA Division II National Championship in men’s basketball


TJ Martin (‘05, Fairhaven Interdisciplinary Concentration) screens his Oscar-winning documentary “Undefeated” at Western weeks after winning the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature.

June 2012

Western’s new agreement with the United Faculty of Western wins praise from the National Education Association. Average faculty salaries had long been lower than at peer institutions. But Gov. Gregoire sends Shepard a letter with “grave concerns” about the raises.

“Western’s status as a premier undergraduate institution traces directly back to the caliber of faculty we are able to attract and retain.”

February 2013

Western begins three years as the medium-sized school with the most alumni in the Peace Corps.

July 2013

Western and Olympic College announce their partnership in Poulsbo to provide undergraduate and graduate programs on the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.

October 2013

Students and alumni receive nine Fulbright awards to teach or study overseas, a record for Western and the most among public, master’s-granting institutions in 2013.

“The basic fact is that we do not teach history or biology or philosophy, we teach people. Higher education is not a mechanical transfer of information; it is a fire inspirationally ignited through human interaction. People teach people.”

February 2014

Western hosts the first Washington Higher Education Sustainability Conference, drawing more than 500 people.

September 2014

Western responds to the state’s need for more graduates in STEM fields by expanding capacity in the Computer Science program; Engineering Technology programs become Engineering. The College of Sciences and Technology becomes College of Science and Engineering.

July 2015

Washington State Legislature approves Carver Academic Facility remodel; construction begins.

November 2015

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November 2015: Salish Sea Studies Institute is established.

Salish Sea Studies Institute is established, an interdisciplinary center focused on the economy, health, culture and habitat of the international area 7 million of us call home.

is editor of Window magazine