Bruce Shepard to retire as WWU president in 2016

Bruce Shepard announced today that he will retire as president of Western Washington University at the close of the 2015-2016 academic year.

“The Board of Trustees and the entire Western community are deeply appreciative of President Shepard’s superb leadership in fostering and greatly enhancing a truly remarkable university,” said Karen Lee, chair of Western’s Board of Trustees. “We are fortunate to have Bruce’s continued leadership and wisdom over the next year.”

Shepard, who next fall will begin his eighth year as president at Western, has provided strong and steady leadership for a university increasingly recognized in the state, region and across the nation for its academic excellence.

“Serving Western has been a richly rewarding privilege and so this has not been an easy decision.  Yet, transitions always come and, after much reflection, I believe it is time for Western and for Cyndie and me.  We are deeply grateful for having the opportunity to serve Western, look forward to an exciting final year, and know that, over the years that then follow, we will always proudly be Vikings,” Bruce Shepard said.

A national search for the new president will be conducted over the next year by the university’s Board of Trustees. “As the search process moves forward, this will provide a great opportunity to listen to the campus community,” Lee said.

Since Shepard began his tenure as president in 2008, Western’s academic excellence has been enhanced across campus, in all university colleges. A few examples include: transitioning university engineering technology programs to full-fledged engineering programs and strengthening computer science in order to meet growing state needs in those fields; and creation of Western’s innovative Institute for Energy Studies.

Western also has broadened its outreach, including creation of the Western Washington University Center at Olympic College in Poulsbo, and expanding partnerships with universities in China, South Korea and Mongolia. Under Shepard’s leadership, Western also has had unprecedented success in gaining private financial support. The Western Stands for Washington Campaign surpassed its original goal of $50 million and is on its way to exceeding a new goal of $60 million.

Other achievements and initiatives under Shepard’s leadership include: a commitment to enhancing diversity at Western and providing a welcoming campus for all students, faculty and staff; creation and growth of Compass2Campus, an innovative award-winning program founded by Cyndie Shepard that encourages at-risk youngsters to stay in school and go on to higher education; and improving campus infrastructure, such as the extensive renovation of Fraser Hall, construction of Harrington Field on south campus, an addition to the Buchanan Towers residence hall and a planned major renovation of the Carver academic facility beginning this summer.

Shepard also led a collaborative effort in developing an effective, bottom-up, transparent budgeting process that prioritized university resources to ensure continued excellence throughout campus.

Soon after becoming WWU president, Shepard had to contend with the effects of the national recession, which resulted in devastating state budget cuts to Western and other public universities in the state. Shepard, who effectively advocated on behalf of Western and public higher education in the state, led campus-wide efforts at Western that successfully protected Western’s academic excellence from the damaging cuts. As president, Shepard also had to make a number of tough choices, including the very difficult decision to eliminate Western’s football program. Western Athletics remains strong, with numerous teams competing at the highest levels nationally.

Prior to becoming Western’s 13th president in 2008, Shepard served as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay from 2001 to 2008. From 1995-2001, Shepard served as provost at Eastern Oregon University, where he was also a professor of political science. Prior to joining EOU, Shepard spent 23 years at Oregon State University, earning tenure as a faculty member in the Department of Political Science before moving into university administration.

Shepard's academic background includes bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of California, Riverside. His scholarship and teaching focuses on American government, public policy and policy analysis, research methods, and environmental and natural resource politics and policy. He has published widely and is active in numerous professional and community organizations locally and nationally, and serves on the Board of Directors for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities.

A more extensive biography is available at: