Steve James to retire after 37 years at Western

by Jodie Permen

Engineering and Design Department

October 21, 2022

The Engineering and Design Department’s Lead Technician, Steve James, will retire Nov. 1 after 37 years at WWU.

Steve was hired by WWU’s Technology Department back in 1985. Though departments, buildings, and people have changed WWU’s campus over those 37 years, Steve was always active in the union that represents the technical staff. His dedication supported the close and productive relationship the union has had with the administration. We are grateful for this contribution that has made WWU a great place to work!

Beyond the scope of Steve’s roles in the union and as a technician, anyone who meets Steve quickly realizes that he is also a natural historian. Steve’s knack for relating the task at hand to broader thoughts on culture, philosophy, politics, and human existence is always an enriching experience to behold. But it is Steve’s local knowledge that he has accumulated over the years, paired with his archive of WWU photo’s, objects, and stories of past campus personalities, that truly edifies. These vivid conversations will be greatly missed.

“When I first got to Western, Steve was showing me around the building and the facilities, and at some point he said ‘If it’s not fun, we don’t do it.’ Having just moved out from the east coast, that offhand comment really shaped my thinking about what the culture was like at Western," said Engineering and Design Department Chair Jeff Newcomer. "For the entire time I’ve been here, Steve has been the reliable, go-to person for solving problems or finding the person/people to solve them, no matter what the issue. It’s hard to imagine what it’s going to be like without him around, and it’s a bit scary to do so.”

Steve said he plans to travel extensively in his retirement; his next trip is to go snowboarding Spain this December.

If you would like to celebrate Steve and his legacy at WWU, please join his colleagues and peers on Friday, Oct. 28, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Black Fern Coffee for beer, wine, and snacks: 1211 Granary Ave (the Granary Building) on the Bellingham waterfront.