I do love the rhythms of campus life and this year is no exception. As I stroll across Western’s campus and hear students talking with excitement about a class challenge or faculty discussing their research, I am reminded of how truly special Western is.
Western continues to be highly sought-after by prospective students. Fall quarter, the university enrolled about 15,000 students, with the largest freshman class in Western’s history. And fall enrollment for freshmen and new transfer students of color is the highest ever at Western. Increasing access to Western’s distinctive academic excellence, first-rate programs and top notch faculty is an essential part of our mission, creating brighter futures in Washington and beyond.
Western’s excellence continues to draw attention across the region and nation. The university has garnered many recent accolades: U.S. News & World Report, USA Today and Washington Monthly magazine all named Western as one of the top universities of its type in the West; Western was one of five national recipients of the 2015 Active Minds Healthy Campus Award, which recognizes the university for its programs to promote student health and well-being; and for the sixth year in a row Western was designated a military-friendly campus.
While awards are a nice recognition of good work, the real achievements at Western take place every day across campus in dozens of classrooms and labs – the superb culture of collaborative learning that is quintessentially Western.
Western continues to respond to the needs of our state, most recently with the creation of a new cybersecurity program in Poulsbo in cooperation with Olympic and Peninsula colleges. And Compass 2 Campus now has student mentors helping children in not only elementary and middle schools, but high schools as well.
As you may have heard, I will be retiring from the presidency of Western after the conclusion of this academic year. This was not an easy decision, for serving Western remains a deeply rewarding privilege. But, I believe it now an appropriate time for Cyndie and me, as well as for Western, to look ahead to next phases. Be assured that our campus community, led by our Board of Trustees, is intensely engaged in doing exactly that.
And as the academic year, my 43rd year in higher education, continues I will particularly savor the wonderful rhythms of campus life at Western.