Western's 14th President: Sabah U. Randhawa

'As a first-generation student, I owe my career to education.'
Mary Gallagher
Randhawa spoke at an open forum during his campus visit earlier this spring.

Sabah U. Randhawa, a chemical and industrial engineer with a long history in academic administration and a passion for student success, was selected in April to be Western’s next president.

Randhawa will begin at Western Aug. 1; Bruce Shepard will retire from the presidency on June 30 after eight years at Western.

Randhawa has spent most of his career at Oregon State University, where he most recently served as provost and executive vice president, OSU’s second-in-command.

“The first thing I would like you to know,” Randhawa said during a campus forum, “I am passionate about education, about educational institutions, and really about enhancing educational institutions. As a first-generation student, I owe my career to education. One of the commitments I made when I switched careers into education from working in industry was to provide those same opportunities for others across the globe.”

The Board of Trustees praised his success in recruiting and retaining diverse populations of students, faculty and staff, and for his commitment to reducing the achievement gap. Randhawa is also devoted to shared governance and transparency and to bringing a global perspective to higher education.

“Dr. Randhawa is the person that we believe will be the next great president of Western Washington University,” said Board of Trustees Chair Karen Lee. “He’s an exceptional person. He’s highly regarded for his commitment to students, to social justice and to the academy of higher education. And he is a person of dignity and humility.”

Randhawa earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan, a master’s degree in industrial engineering from OSU and a doctorate in industrial engineering from Arizona State University. His wife, Uzma Ahmad, is a clinical psychologist who works with children recovering from trauma.

Randhawa was selected from 75 candidates after a nationwide search following extensive feedback from those on and off campus. Western’s Presidential Search Advisory Committee, made up of faculty, staff, students and community members, worked with Greenwood/Asher & Associates to conduct the search.

Mary Gallagher is editor of Window magazine

Uzma Ahmad and Sabah Randhawa visited campus earlier this spring.