Whatcom Magazine

Town and Gown: WWU readies office in Herald Building

Sam Jones of The Sign Post installs a large Western Washington University sign on the corner of the Herald Building in June 2015.
Sam Jones of The Sign Post installs a large Western Washington University sign on the corner of the Herald Building in June 2015. The Bellingham Herald

Western Washington University christened its new downtown office in Bellingham’s historic Herald Building with a ribbon-cutting ceremony June 19, 2015. The move is intended to better connect the university with downtown, alumni and the entire local community.

“There’s a saying that communities take care of universities that take care of communities,” Western President Bruce Shepard said in a March news release announcing the move. “We’re excited to deepen that engagement and broaden our sense of community with this new presence downtown.”

Once staff move into the office at 1155 N. State St., it will serve as a welcome-to-Western center. The 2,500-square-foot ground-floor area includes a conference and events room, facilities and opportunities for the public to learn about campus life, a public reception area, and office space for about nine staff members.

The effort is a three-way partnership by the university, the WWU Alumni Association and the WWU Foundation to engage with Whatcom County alumni and Bellingham-based businesses and philanthropists.

The initial focus of the office will be outreach to alumni and greater awareness of the “I Stand for Western” campaign. As part of its $60 million “Western Stands for Washington” campaign, the foundation hopes to double the amount of scholarship money available for students.

New WCC programs

Whatcom Community College has a new program for adults who didn’t graduate from high school but who want to earn a diploma. Called High School 21+, the program offers recognition and credit for competencies gained through life experience; an affordable tuition of $25 per quarter; and convenient day, evening and online classes. Classes begin in the fall. For details or to enroll, call WCC’s Transitional Learning Program, 360-383-3060.

In another change, WCC has won state OK to offer its first applied four-year degree. Pending accreditation approval, beginning in fall 2017 students can enroll in Whatcom’s new bachelor’s of applied science degree in IT networking.

Students will study such topics as cloud computing, mobile technologies and industrial control systems. WCC will work with area colleges, including Bellingham Technical College and Northwest Indian College, to provide access to students with associate’s degrees in IT.