Higher education issues, both in Whatcom County and Washington state.
The executive director of a food and agriculture initiative will be the commencement speaker at Western Washington University’s summer graduation ceremony Saturday, Aug. 18.
About 450 undergraduates and 75 master’s candidates will receive degrees this quarter.
Deborah Atwood, head of AGree: Transforming Food and Agriculture Policy, also is an alumna of Huxley College of the Environment and Western’s Campus School.
Heidi Grant Murphy, a Western alumna and renowned opera singer, will receive an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts and sing the national anthem at Western’s summer commencement, which begins at 10 a.m. in Carver Gym.
Graduating senior Amanjeet Sahota, a political science major from Bellingham, will give the student commencement address.
No tickets are required for those attending commencement. Seating will be first come, first served.
People also may watch a live feed of the televised ceremony in lecture halls in Science, Mathematics and Technology Education (SMATE) building. The halls are on the bottom floor, near the main entrance.
The ceremony also will be streamed live at www.ustream.tv/channel/wwu-live-events1.
Northwest Indian College will offer a second bachelor’s degree beginning this fall.
The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities in May approved NWIC’s plan to offer the bachelor’s degree in native studies leadership, which college officials said would give students a chance to pursue a four-year degree rooted in tribal knowledge.
It is the second bachelor’s degree for the regional tribal college, which has its main campus on the Lummi Reservation and six extended campus sites at other reservations in Washington state and Idaho.
The first is a bachelor of science in native environmental science that NWIC has been offering since 2008.
The new bachelor’s program requires students to complete 180 credits in courses that include rights of tribes, native science, native governments and politics, and honoring traditional leadership.
“This new degree, native leadership study degree, it’s really foundational to who we are as a native college,” said Justin Guillory, president of NWIC.
The new program will serve as a “blueprint or model,” Guillory said, explaining that it will allow each tribal site to recognize its own cultural teachings and practices.
He said the new degree program was something Lummi and other tribal communities served by the college could be proud of, adding the hope was that it would give native students the chance to reclaim their heritage and preserve the rights of tribal nations in the future.
Guillory praised Sharon Kinley, director of the college’s Coast Salish Institute, and her staff for developing the new degree.
The college is working on offering more bachelor’s degrees, including in areas such as human services, tribal and business management, and teacher education.
The college’s fall semester begins Sept. 17.
A former NASA astronaut, and current professor of physics and astronomy at Western Washington University, has been elected to the Washington State Academy of Sciences.
George “Pinky” Nelson will be inducted into the academy at its annual meeting at the Museum of Flight in Seattle on Sept. 20, according to a Western news release.
Nelson also is the head of WWU’s Science, Math and Technology Education program.
The 185-member academy provides scientific and engineering analysis to public policy-makers, and works to increase the role and visibility of science in the state.
Before coming to Western in 2002, Nelson was a NASA astronaut who was a mission specialist on three Space Shuttle missions.
In case you missed it, here’s the story about the new president of Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation.
Washington Engineering Institute has joined the ranks of Whatcom County colleges offering a four-year degree.
The state Washington Student Achievement Council on July 27 gave the institute in Bellingham the authorization to offer a four-year bachelor of science in civil engineering technology.
The institute also received the OK to offer a new two-year associates of applied science in civil engineering technology.
Prior to the new designation, the institute’s students earned trade school certificates through its career school.
“It is our next stage in growth. It was planned. We did it. We are very happy,” said Dave C. Bren, president of the small private college in Haskell Business Park. “And we’re excited. But now comes the real work.”
The institute also offers continuing education coursework.
Founded in November 2009 with the help of Bellingham industry, the institute graduated its first group of students in June 2012.
Fall quarter classes, including for the new college courses, begin Sept. 4. There are openings for the new four-year and two-year programs.
Starting tuition for college courses will be $5,400 a year, among the lowest in the state for a four-year college, Bren noted.
“We have to because we’re just starting out,” he said.
Career school tuition will continue to be $3,600 a year.
The low tuition is a combination of factors that include a “very humble” facility and no administration, according to Bren.
“We just have the bare minimum to do what we need to do. We focus on teaching in the classroom,” said Bren, a civil engineer who also is the civil engineering technology instructor. “It doesn’t matter what the building looks like. It matters what instruction is happening inside the building.”
The new designation won’t bring a change in name, or hours.
The institute will continue to offer evening classes only — allowing students to work during the day and go to school at night and faculty to keep their day jobs.
Its teachers are professional engineers still working in their fields in public and private industry, according to Bren.
“This is an incredible opportunity for the local community,” he added. “What excites me is it’s home-grown.”
A new bachelor and associates degree offering from the institute comes as public officials and private industry worry about educating enough students to meet future demands for workers in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.
Officials have said the need for what are known as STEM graduates is critical, in Washington state and nationally.
Within five years, for example, Washington state will have at least 5,000 STEM jobs left unfilled because there aren’t enough qualified candidates, according to a 2010 survey of employers conducted by the state Workforce Training & Education Coordinating Board.
Additional information about the Washington Engineering Institute in Bellingham is online at weiedu.org. Or contact Admissions Director Kristina Daheim at email@example.com to learn more about the institute’s new bachelor of science in civil engineering technology and associates of applied science in civil engineering technology.
Or call 360-739-1428.
Western Washington University has landed on Forbes Magazine’s annual list of the top colleges in the U.S.
Forbes ranked Western 353rd overall — out of 650 — on its list of the best undergraduate institutions based on post-graduate success, student satisfaction, student debt load, four-year graduation rate, and competitive awards.
The Center for College Affordability and Productivity, based in Washington, D.C., compiled the rankings for Forbes.
The magazine notes that its rankings “focus on the things that matter the most to students: quality of teaching, great career prospects, high graduation rates and low-levels of debt.”
Western ranked second among public universities in the state of Washington, after the University of Washington (87th) and before Washington State University (464th).
Western officials also pointed out that their university was ranked ahead of a number of major colleges and universities, including Rutgers, Seton Hall, Temple, Purdue and Oregon State.
Read more about the rankings and see the entire list by clicking here.
In case you missed it, here’s a story about Western Washington University’s connection to the Mars landing of the rover Curiosity the night of Sunday, Aug. 5.
Editor’s Note: I’ll be interviewing the new president of Northwest Indian College next week, but here’s a first look.
LUMMI RESERVATION — The dean of academics and distance learning for Northwest Indian College has become the college’s newest president.
Justin Guillory took over as president July 27.
He replaces Cheryl Crazy Bull, who has been appointed president and CEO of the American Indian College Fund.
She had been the college’s president since October 2002.
Guillory has served as the dean of academics and distance learning for the college since 2008.
He is a direct descendant of the Nez Perce tribe. He and his wife, Sunny Guillory, have three children. Sunny Guillory is of Lakota descent, and also works at NWIC as the financial literacy coordinator.
Guillory earned his master’s degree in educational administration at Washington State University, then returned to his home on the Nez Perce Reservation in Lapwai, Idaho, where he managed NWIC’s site there.
The college has six sites at tribal locations in Washington state and Idaho, where students can take classes or distance-learning courses.
He went on to pursue a doctoral in higher education administration at WSU, where he focused on native student success.
Guillory earned his doctorate in 2007.
He returned to NWIC as the dean of extended campuses and, in 2008, was promoted to dean of academics and distance learning.
As for Crazy Bull, she will replace Richard B. Williams, who will retire Sept. 30.
Established in 1989, the Colorado-based American Indian College Fund raises money for scholarships for American Indian students and to support the country’s 33 accredited tribal colleges.
Crazy Bull, a member of the Sicangu Band of the Lakota Nation, grew up on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, a rural community of 33,000 enrolled tribal members in South Dakota.
She has more than 30 years of experience in tribal education, according to a news release from the American Indian College Fund. Crazy Bull also has served as president of the board of directors for the American Indian Higher Education Consortium.
If you missed the panels about key issues facing Washington state that were put on in June by Western Washington University’s Ralph Munro Institute, you can catch them on TVW this month.
The broadcast times and topics are:
- Monday, July 16: ”Budgeting in Challenging Times,” noon; ”Political Influence: Inside the Process,” 8:30 p.m.
- Tuesday, July 17: “Higher Education: Legislative Challenges” at 7:30 p.m. ; Rob McKenna on higher education issues at 9:30 p.m.
- Wednesday, July 18: ”Political Influence: Inside the Process” at noon; ”Initiatives and Referenda: Good for Washington?” at 8:30 p.m.
- Thursday, July 19: “Political Reporting: A Challenging Landscape” at noon; ”Budgeting in Challenging Times” at 8 p.m.
- Friday, July 20: “Lobbying: Influence and Access” at noon; “Political Reporting: A Challenging Landscape” at 7 p.m.
Or watch them any time on TVW’s website by entering “Munro” in the page’s search window.
TVW is Washington state’s public TV network.
Western Washington University Board of Trustees has sent letters to alumni explaining the reasoning behind pay raises that members approved for faculty. Those salary increases raised the ire of Gov. Chris Gregoire last week.
The letter is below.