Riordan resigning as WWU provost

Catherine Riordan is resigning as provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Western Washington University.

“On behalf of the entire Western campus community, I thank Catherine for her leadership and dedicated service to Western and to the many communities we serve. She has left her mark on Western; over the past four years, much has been accomplished to preserve and enhance Western’s academic excellence, strengthening teaching and learning, often in the face of significant challenges such as dramatic state budget cuts,” said Western President Bruce Shepard.

Riordan, who has been provost and vice president for Academic Affairs at Western since August 2009, will conclude her service in that position in July.

“I have had the pleasure of serving as the provost at Western for the past four years, but I am at a point where I wish to step away and refocus. While I love the work of being provost, it is extremely demanding and time-consuming. In July, I am going to move on to other academic pursuits. President Shepard is supportive of this move and for that I am grateful,” Riordan said. “I am very appreciative of the opportunity to serve such an outstanding university.”

President Shepard has begun consulting with leadership of faculty, students, colleges, Academic Affairs units, and Trustees prior to forming plans for future leadership of Academic Affairs.

“I am proud that we have accomplished a great deal during my tenure,” Riordan said. “I regret that I am stepping away with a number of important and exciting initiatives in progress. However, I do so with the confidence that we have a talented and committed team of faculty and academic leaders in place who will see this work through to a successful completion.”

Shepard noted some of the significant accomplishments during Riordan’s tenure as provost, including movement toward a strong dean model; transparency and decentralization of financial resources and decision-making within the academic division; unrelenting focus on student access to required classes, and expanding capacity for Western to internationalize its curriculum and student body. Even as state resources declined, Shepard said that Riordan encouraged responsiveness to recommendations of campus White Papers and Task Forces. She strongly supported diversity and equity in the workplace, and she led efforts to expand access to Western's programs with institutions in the community and technical college system.

Riordan succeeded Dennis Murphy as provost at Western. Riordan has a doctorate in Social Psychology from the State University of New York at Albany. Prior to being provost at Western, she was vice provost at Central Michigan University. She also was director of Management Systems at the University of Missouri-Rolla, where she established that university’s first interdisciplinary program, which has grown to one of the campus’s largest programs. At both Central Michigan University and the University of Missouri-Rolla, Riordan held the rank of tenured full professor of Psychology. Riordan taught for 21 years, primarily at the undergraduate level, but she also taught and supervised the thesis work of master’s and doctoral students. She has conducted and published research with students at all levels. Over the course of her career she received awards for distinguished teaching, advising, research, and service.

The provost and vice president for Academic Affairs is the chief academic officer of Western Washington University and has senior leadership responsibility, particularly having policy and decision responsibility for academic programs, faculty, academic relations with other organizations, academic budgets and academic facilities planning. The provost serves as a member of the senior management team and fulfills an important role in university wide matters. She also represents the university to appropriate external people and organizations and serves as president when the president is unavailable.