Convocation kicks off new school year as President Randhawa addresses faculty and staff for the first time

Western's new President, Sabah Randhawa, addressed Western's faculty and staff this morning at the annual convocation that marks the official start of the new school year.  

After a hearty breakfast in the Viking Union, Western employees gathered in the PAC to celebrate the year's awards to faculty and staff. Faculty Senate President Kristen Larson provided welcoming and closing remarks. In his first convocation remarks, greeted at the end by a standing ovation by those in attendance, Randhawa said that it was a “tremendous honor” to be Western’s president, described the many favorable impressions he had formed of the university, and said the university will initiate a strategic planning process to help better “imagine the future of Western.” He also discussed the importance for Western advancing  "inclusive excellence” and said he hoped the campus would engage in three important reflections over the coming year: appreciating and being proud of Western; imagining the future for Western and what it could be; and lastly, to work together and advance Western collaboratively. For the full text of his speech, go the president's website here or at For more coverage of convocation, go to

The following award winners were also recognized at the event:

  • Outstanding Faculty Leadership Award: Steven Garfinkle, professor of History
  • Carl H. Simpson Bridging Award: James Hearne, professor of Computer Science
  • Outstanding Classified Staff Award: Jeannine Woelkers, program assistant with New Student Services/Family Outreach
  • Diversity Achievement Award: Joseph Trimble, professor of Psychology, and Trula Nicholas, associate professor of Human Services
  • Professional Staff Award for Excellence: Lisa Rosenberg, assistant director for Student Activities, Viking Union - Enrollment and Student Services
  • Phil E. Sharpe, Jr. Community Engagement Award: Pete Elich, Parking Services
  • Team Recognition Award: Morse Hall Fire Recovery Team

For a full archived video of convocation, click here or go to


WWU photos by Rhys Logan/Office of Communications and Marketing