WWU Receives National Recognition for Community Service

Western Washington University has been selected for the national 2015 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll with Distinction award, which recognizes higher education institutions across the country that reflect the values of exemplary community service and achieve meaningful outcomes in their communities.

“Western is honored to again be recognized for excellence in community service, which is at the core of who we are.  Many students come to Western passionate about making a difference in the world, and our faculty and staff are equally committed to empowering them with tools and opportunities to do so in our local and global communities,” said Western President Sabah Randhawa.

Western is the only public institution on the West Coast that has made the Honor Roll with Distinction every year since 2010.

For the 2015 award, Western was recognized for: the programs and services of the Center for Service-Learning, Compass 2 Campus and the Institute for Watershed Studies, part of Western’s Huxley College of the Environment.

The Center for Service Learning offers services that facilitate partnerships that meet the common goals of the WWU, local, regional and international communities.

“It is always nice to have the Center for Service-Learning (CSL) recognized for our commitment to Western's mission of developing the ‘well-being of communities.’ All of the credit goes to our staff. They are tireless and passionate advocates for high impact learning and community building!  And we are in good company with all of the other educational initiatives on our campus that make Western great,” said Tim Costello, director of the Center for Service-Learning at Western.

Compass 2 Campus is a program at Western designed to increase access to higher education by providing an opportunity for 5th-12th grade students from traditionally underrepresented and diverse backgrounds in Whatcom and Skagit counties to be mentored by university students.

“We are proud of all of the college mentors from Western that serve 31 schools.  We are honored to serve the schools in these 11 districts throughout two counties.  We know that the mentors continue to make a positive impact with all of the students they serve,” said Anselmo Villanueva, executive director of Compass 2 Campus.

The Institute for Watershed Studies (IWS) facilitates watershed-related research and environmental education projects for faculty and students. Beneficiaries include the residents of the four counties where the IWS conducts its research ­– Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish and Island counties. For 50 plus years, the IWS has collaborated with city, county and state governments to monitor the water quality of Lake Whatcom, the principle source of drinking water for the county’s population (some 250,000).  Collaborations between the community and the IWS include the Northwest Lakes Program, which monitors the water quality of approximately 50-60 regional lakes each year, for which water quality monitoring would otherwise be unlikely due to their small size and location in sparsely populated areas. 

The IWS also works closely with K-12 schools and the general public, recently helping local high schoolers study nitrates in groundwater and meeting with local lake groups to discuss lake management issues related to the increasing frequency of toxic algae blooms.

“This award is a great way to recognize the many students, faculty and staff associated with IWS who have developed partnerships with the community to provide a better understanding of local and regional watershed issues,” said Robin Matthews, director of the Institute for Watershed Studies.

The President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll was inspired by the thousands of college students who traveled across the country to support relief efforts along the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina; the initiative celebrates the volunteer spirit that exists within the higher education community.

The Corporation for National and Community Service oversees the Honor Roll in collaboration with the U.S. Departments of Education and Housing and Urban Development, Campus Compact, and the American Council on Education.