Western opens new downtown facilities

Western Washington University opened its new downtown office in Bellingham's historic Herald Building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 19. The move will better connect the university with the downtown, alumni and the entire local community.

“There's a saying that communities take care of universities that take care of communities," said Western President Bruce Shepard in a March press release announcing the move. "The distinctive character, values and relationships that the City of Bellingham and Western share are key parts of what makes this such a great place to live, learn, work and play. We're excited to deepen that engagement and broaden our sense of community with this new presence downtown."

The new office at 1155 North State St. will serve as a welcome-to-Western center in the heart of the city. The 2,500-square-foot ground floor area includes a conference and events room, facilities and opportunities for the public to find out more about campus life, a walk-in/public reception area and office space for nine WWU staff members.

It's a three-way partnership of the university, the WWU Alumni Association and the WWU Foundation. It marks a significant initiative to engage directly with key Whatcom County-based constituencies, including alumni as well as Bellingham-based businesses and philanthropists. Whatcom County alumni – more than 15,000 strong – constitute the second largest concentration of Western alums, and the city’s businesses are a major employer of Western graduates.

The initial focus of the office will be outreach to WWU alumni and growing awareness of the 'I Stand for Western' campaign, according to a statement from University Advancement:

"This new space will help us achieve our goals of further developing a culture of pride and philanthropy among our second largest alumni concentration (Whatcom County), among our local businesses and philanthropists, as well as with visiting alums and future students. It's a focused effort to increase and enhance relationships with our Whatcom County alumni, businesses and philanthropists in order to directly support the needs of our students through internships, employment and philanthropy."

As part of its $60 million Western Stands for Washington campaign, the WWU Foundation has set its sights on doubling the amount of scholarship dollars available for students, and will be asking the Whatcom County community to help make this possible.

Western has signed an initial two-year lease with options for three additional annual extensions.

"I am thrilled to welcome this new Western office to our downtown," said Mayor Kelli Linville in the March release. "This is a great step in establishing a stronger presence in our City Center and demonstrates the strength of our partnership and shared goal of a thriving downtown."

Western Today staff