• August 29, 2015
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Western Washington photo1

Nestled in the pristine Pacific Northwest between the Cascades Mountains and the San Juan Islands overlooking Bellingham Bay, Western Washington University, in Bellingham, is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the finest masters-granting university in the region and second-best in the entire West, a region stretching from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean.

Western continues to garner accolades across the spectrum of academia and the private sector. In the past year alone, it has been named a “Best Buy” by Kiplingers for the value of its education and its cost; placed in the top 15 in the Sierra Club’s “Cool Schools” ranking of sustainability-focused campuses worldwide; been awarded the prestigious Carnegie Foundation’s 2010 Community Engaged University classification; was one of only two universities in Washington state named to President Obama’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, after Western students, faculty and staff contributed over 750,000 hours of community service. Western ranks third in the nation among medium-sized universities sending graduates to the Peace Corps and was named by the Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the nation’s best college workplaces.

Teaching is at the core of what Western does, and its focus remains on educating its almost 15,000 undergraduates not with graduate students, but with its faculty. While teaching lies at the heart of the Western experience, the university is also a powerful engine of academic research. and creative productivity: Last year Western faculty published 33 books and 120 book chapters, edited 22 volumes, wrote 344 articles in peer-reviewed journals and 98 more articles in other journals, presented 552 conference papers and produced an amazing 1,178 performances, recordings and exhibits.

Last year faculty received 71 external grant awards totaling more than $10 million. Current, active grants at Western total more than $43.5 million in funds received to date. Faculty and students are engaged in cutting-edge research projects exploring cheaper, more efficient solar panels, designs for a lightweight hybrid bus, new treatments for schizophrenia, the ecological effects of removing the Elwha River Dam, mid-ocean volcano analysis, and faster movement of cargo at the Canadian border, just to name a few.

Recently named a “Dream Town” by Outside Magazine, Bellingham’s quality of life is second to none. Outdoor enthusiasts can spend mornings on a glacier on the shoulders of 11,000-foot-high Mount Baker and a leisurely afternoon paddling the calm waters of Chuckanut Bay alongside resident populations of orcas, seals and salmon.

Bellingham is an incredible place to live, and Western is an amazing place to work. Join us and see for yourself!


•  Bellingham and surrounding Whatcom County offer magnificent natural scenery, a profusion of fresh water lakes and saltwater inlets, and an extensive interurban greenbelt and backcountry trail system. Outdoor activities abound: skiing and snowboarding, hiking and kayaking, bird and whale watching—just to name a few.

•  The local arts scene thrives, beginning with Western’s celebrated outdoor sculpture collection. Anchored by the historic Mt. Baker Theatre, Bellingham’s cultural arts district includes the Whatcom Museum, Pickford Film Center, and American Museum of Radio & Electricity.  Bellingham is second in the country after Santa Fe with the most number of registered artists and was recently named an "Art Town USA".

•  Highly recognized in the state and region for their achievements, Whatcom County school districts are among the best in the nation. Several districts and educators have won local, state and national awards and recognition for excellence.

•  Bellingham Public Library's circulation has been on the increase for many years, this year exceeding 1.6 million items (over 20 items per capita).  It is one of the highest circulating libraries in the nation for a community our size - and the community includes Western Washington University.  


•  Because Western faculty are committed to providing our students with the kind of personalized education Western is known for, we strive to keep teaching loads and class sizes at appropriate levels.

•  The university provides competitive Summer Teaching Grants that give faculty time to develop new courses and explore innovative teaching techniques. 

•  Western’s upper division courses and graduate programs provide numerous opportunities to involve students in faculty research.

•  Western’s Extended Education and International Studies programs offer opportunities for faculty-led international travel and study.

•  WWU’s Center for Service-Learning offers numerous opportunities for faculty to direct internships and teach service learning classes.


•  Opportunities for faculty to focus on research on provided through Western’s professional leave policy, as well as competitive Summer Research Grants. All new tenure track faculty are guaranteed a Summer Research Grant in their first year. 

•  The Office of Scientific Technical Services provides high quality technical support to faculty, staff, and students for a wide variety of teaching and scholarship activities involving instrumentation, and the design, manufacture, and repair of equipment.

•  The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs provides a full array of services for those faculty seeking external grant funding.


WWU is an exceptional community of faculty and students engaged in leading edge intellectual inquiry within high quality academic programs. As a public, liberal arts university, we strive to be responsible stewards of our resources and to serve our state and nation. Our mission is to bring together individuals of diverse backgrounds and perspectives in an inclusive student-centered university that develops the potential of learners and the well-being of communities.

In a recent Higher Education Research Institute (HERI) faculty survey (2010-11), it was noted that when compared to our peers:

•  Western faculty were more likely to consider research essential or very important (WWU = 83%; peers = 74%).

•  Western faculty were more likely to have published articles in academic or professional journals (WWU = 62%; peers = 45%), or chapters in edited volumes (WWU = 62%; peers = 46%).

•  Western faculty were more likely to agree (strongly or somewhat) that colleges should be actively involved in solving social problems (WWU = 82%; peers = 75%).

•  Western faculty were more likely to have received paid sabbatical leave (WWU = 46%; peers = 32%), internal research grants (WWU = 75%; peers = 54%), or travel funds (WWU = 91%; peers = 81%).

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