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Western Washington University Institutional Profile 2008-2009


One of six state-funded, four-year institutions of higher education in Washington, WWU operates on a September-to-June academic year (quarter system) with six- and nine-week summer sessions. Dr. Bruce Shepard is Western's 13th president.


Situated in Bellingham, 90 miles north of Seattle and 50 miles south of Vancouver, B.C., Western is within walking distance of Bellingham Bay and just over an hour's drive from the ski area on 10,778-foot Mount Baker.


On Feb. 24, 1893, Gov. John H. McGraw signed legislation creating New Whatcom Normal School. The first class of 88 students entered in 1899. Western is now the third largest institution of higher education in the state. The Normal School became Western Washington College of Education in 1937 and Western Washington State College in 1961. Western achieved university status in 1977.


Western, with its residential campus, houses roughly a third of its students in 15 residence halls. The 215-acre campus includes the student-funded Wade King Recreation Center and the 180-acre Sehome Arboretum, operated jointly with the city of Bellingham. A 12,000-square-foot Marine Education Center, located at Western's Shannon Point Marine Center near Anacortes, opened in 2006. Western also has a 15-acre student/university facility at nearby Lake Whatcom. Woodring College of Education, Huxley College of the Environment and University Extended Education and Summer Programs offer classes and certificate and degree programs in Bremerton, Everett, Port Angeles and Seattle. Work is underway on an expansion of WWU's campus to the Bellingham waterfront.

Academic Organization

For the past four decades, the University has taken special pride in the quality of liberal arts programs required of all students. Academic divisions at Western are the College of Business and Economics, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the College of Fine and Performing Arts, the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Huxley College of the Environment, the College of Sciences and Technology, Woodring College of Education and the Graduate School. U.S. News & World Report ranked Western as the top public master's granting university in the Pacific Northwest and third in the West, a region stretching from the Pacific Ocean to Texas. Western ranks 19th among all public and private universities in its class regionally.


Resident undergraduate tuition and fees are $5,535 for three quarters at Western.


Western's 2009 state operating budget is $127,795,197, funded by state appropriations and operating fee revenue through June 30, 2009. Sixty percent is funded through state appropriations; 40 percent by tuition.


Fall 2008 enrollment included 13,777 full- and part-time students, a full-time equivalent total of 12,908. Western has 2,693 new first-year students and 887 new undergraduate transfer students. More than 83 percent of 2007 freshmen returned for 2008, and about 70 percent of students who start at Western graduate. Average GPA for freshmen is roughly 3.5. Approximately 91 percent of students come from Washington state, with most coming from King, Whatcom, Snohomish and Pierce counties. The University has students from 44 other states, led by Alaska, California, Oregon and Colorado, and from 43 other nations, led by Japan, Canada and South Korea. Students of color comprise 19.05 percent of the total student body.


As of fall 2008, the University employed 735 faculty, which equates to about 629 full-time equivalent faculty members. Of the 511 faculty members employed full time, 88.5 percent have terminal degrees. The fall 2008 student-faculty ratio is 19.1-to-1.


Now in its 10th year as a full member of NCAA Division II, Western has made national appearances in virtually every sport sponsored. The Vikings have won the NCAA Division II National Championship in women's rowing for the past four years, the first time that's been accomplished in any division. Western placed second nationally in women's rowing in 2002 and 2003 and was the national runner-up in volleyball in 2007. The Vikings also reached the national semifinals in men's basketball in 2001 and in women's basketball in 2000. A member of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference, Western won the league's first four All-Sports Championships from 2001 to 2005 and took second in the 2005-06, 2006-07 and 2007-08 seasons. The Vikings won the NAIA National Championship in softball in 1998, reached the NAIA Division II title contest in football in 1996 and placed third nationally in volleyball in 1990. In women's basketball, Western ranks among the top 15 in all-time victories and has made 10 straight national appearances. The Vikings had the fourth-longest winning streak in NCAA II history when they won 57 consecutive league matches in volleyball from 2002 to 2004. Nearly 500 WWU student-athletes compete in 16 varsity sports.


More than 86,000 graduates live in Washington state and throughout the world.

The institutional profile is updated once a year, during fall quarter. For a PDF version, click here.

If you have comments or suggestions, e-mail us at news@wwu.edu.

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