WWU trustees select Bruce Shepard as Western president

The Western Washington University Board of Trustees today selected Bruce Shepard, chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, as Western's 13th president.

"The Board of Trustees strongly believes that Bruce Shepard is the person we need to lead Western Washington University into its increasingly bright future," said Kevin Raymond, board chair. "Dr. Shepard is a compelling leader who listens and inspires, with a demonstrated record of achievement. He is the right choice for Western."

Shepard will succeed current President Karen W. Morse, who is retiring Sept. 1 after 15 years at Western. Shepard will assume his new duties at WWU on Sept. 1.

Shepard said he is honored to become Western's next president and that he and his wife Cyndie are eager to learn more about Western and its community.

"We are so excited to be joining a University that is recognized across the country for its excellent programs made so by the outstanding people who are the University. We very much look forward to calling Bellingham home," Shepard said.

In talks with campus groups this week Shepard stressed that as WWU president he will work collaboratively with others on and off campus.

"My leadership style is that I don't come in with answers. What does work is for groups of people to share ideas," said Shepard.

Shepard said he was impressed by how passionate Western students, faculty and staff are about Western, and how they want to make a premier University even better. And he praised the leadership of President Morse and the many achievements during her tenure as president.

"She has positioned this University for a very successful transition and has done a beautiful job here at Western," Shepard said.

Raymond said that Morse "is still our president until Sept. 1 and we have a lot to do" but took the opportunity to thank her for "15 years of outstanding leadership at Western."

Morse said she is delighted Shepard will be succeeding her as Western's next president. "I have complete confidence that Western will be in very good hands," Morse said.

The trustees approved a three-year appointment for Shepard. They also appointed him as a tenured professor in the Political Science Department.

Shepard was identified as the preferred candidate on April 23 after a nationwide search and extensive review of candidates. Soon after President Morse announced her retirement, the trustees selected members of the university's Presidential Search Advisory Committee, chaired by Trustee Phil Sharpe. The committee, working with search consultant Greenwood & Associates, forwarded to the trustees 53 candidate applications, with the recommendation to take an especially close look at five candidates. The trustees then interviewed those five candidates, leading to the selection of Shepard as Western's next president.

"I want to recognize the extraordinary efforts of the committee, led by Phil Sharpe, for bringing the search for a president of Western to such a successful conclusion," Raymond said.

Shepard assumed his duties as chancellor of the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay on Nov. 1, 2001. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is in Green Bay, Wisc., has an enrollment of 6,111 students and is part of the University of Wisconsin system.

In his first few months on the job, Shepard met with more than 2,000 people on and off campus to get a sense of where the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay should be headed. Those meetings led to the development of Northeastern Wisconsin's Growth Agenda for the University, an ambitious plan to grow the University's enrollment and to better serve a dynamic, rapidly diversifying region.

Under Shepard's leadership, the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay also has had unprecedented success in gaining private financial support. The Campaign for the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay so far has raised more than $21 million, including $11 million for the Kress Events Center. The Kress Center, the University's renovated and expanded student sports, recreation and events center, was made possible by a unique partnership of students, the state of Wisconsin and community donors.

The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's campus landscape has undergone a major transformation during Shepard's tenure as chancellor. In addition to the Kress Center, construction at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay during the past six years includes the overhaul of the Laboratory Sciences Building, University Union and Student Services area and three new residence halls.

Other major achievements and initiatives at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay under Shepard's leadership include:

  • Development of the "Connecting learning to life" campuswide theme, a call to action consistent with Shepard's vision for the University.
  • Regional partnerships with educational institutions, local governments and businesses, Native American tribes and community organizations.
  • Creation and growth of the Phuture Phoenix Program, an innovative program that encourages at-risk youngsters to stay in school and go on to higher education. Phuture Phoenix, co-founded and directed by Cyndie Shepard, has received state and national recognition as a model for university/community collaboration and innovative practices for diversity.
  • A commitment to diversifying the University community. The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's enrollment of students of color has increased nearly 40 percent since 2001.
  • A recommitment to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay's tradition related to sustainability and environmental awareness. The University is one of four campuses selected to pilot a promising energy-independence initiative.

Shepard came to the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay from Eastern Oregon University, where he served as provost and also was 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.

 For more on the search process, see: http://www.wwu.edu/presidentsearch/.