Our academic year is now well underway and it’s exciting to have our students and faculty filling the WOU campus! I would like to update you on the latest news regarding our university – a campus community that I have been proud to serve for the last seven years as vice president for finance and administration and now as president.
I wish to start by making one simple statement: this will be another great year for Western Oregon University. The past year and summer flew by for me. Once again, I am extremely privileged to serve as WOU president. For those of you who know me even a bit, you know that I never aspired to be a university president but this is the very best job I have ever had. Why? Because of the difference we make in the lives of our students, many of whom grew up just like me – in families where English was not spoken and where I was the first to earn even a high school degree, let alone earn an advanced university degree. The concept of succeeding in college was not a reality in my own mind until I met professors who inspired me—just like those at WOU who inspire our students each day.
Just a few weeks ago I enjoyed meeting many students and families as they prepared for their transition to college. I saw many things in the eyes of students and families – fear and joy, hope, tears, and smiles. And it warmed your soul to witness the hugs and kisses.
This experience instilled within me what our number one priority is—to repay the trust placed in us by guiding the success of our student body, one student at a time. And while more than 80 percent of our students are Oregonians, 100 percent of them aspire for a future they will be able and proud to participate in.
As I have said before – each one of us must take that responsibility very seriously – to educate and have high expectations for our next generation, and to help prepare our students for the many twists and turns that their futures, like many of ours, will hold.
WOU finished the last academic year very strong fiscally. We have tackled an aggressive campus-wide continuous improvement “Window of Opportunity” initiative that has, by all measure, been successful in correcting a negative trend – spending down our fund balance reserves in the upcoming biennium. WOU also created several new programs: a chemistry minor with a concentration in environmental chemistry, a bachelor’s of music in contemporary music track with an emphasis on jazz, a minor in forensic anthropology, and a bachelor’s in visual communication design.
This issue of The Western Edge features inspiring stories from our alumni, current students, faculty and staff. You will learn about an alumna who moved from Monmouth to Yale to pursue her dreams, a faculty member who is working hard to support the needs of the Veteran population at WOU, a student who has been educating people about the history of women's rights in Oregon, and much more.
President, Western Oregon University