Former state official, outdoors writer speak at WWU commencement

Graduating Western Washington University students are shown at ceremonies in Carver Gymnasium in June 2014.
Graduating Western Washington University students are shown at ceremonies in Carver Gymnasium in June 2014. For The Bellingham Herald

Washington’s former Secretary of State Ralph Munro and noted wilderness writer, adventurer and educator Jennifer Hahn will be the featured speakers at Western Washington University’s winter commencement this weekend.

Ceremonies are at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. Saturday, March 19, at the Performing Arts Center main stage, 516 High St.

Some 550 undergraduates and 30 master’s candidates will receive degrees. Admission is by ticket only, but the events will be shown live on Comcast Cable Channel 26 in Whatcom County and live-streamed at http://www.ustream.tv/channel/wwu-live-events1. There’s overflow seating in the PAC concert hall.

Parking is free and available in most lots. Shuttle bus service will be available from the 12A parking lot off South College Drive from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. or until demand ceases.

Hahn, who teaches at WWU’s Fairhaven College, is author of “Spirited Waters: Soloing South Through the Inside Passage,” about her 750-mile kayak trip from Alaska to Washington and “Pacific Feast: A Cook’s Guide to West Coast Foraging and Cuisine,” which examines wild edible foods of the Northwest. Her current master’s studies include analysis of Salish Sea pollution in seaweeds. Hahn is speaking at the 9 a.m. and noon ceremonies for students in the College of Fine and Performing Arts, Fairhaven College of Interdisciplinary Studies, the American Cultural Studies Program, Huxley College of the Environment and Woodring College of Education, College of Science and Engineering, College of Business and Economics and the Graduate School.

Munro, a Western graduate who served five terms as secretary of state — from 1980 to 2000 — speaks at the 3 p.m. ceremony for students from the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. Among Munro’s accomplishments in office were reforms to increase voter participation. He used his influence to preserve state historic landmarks and has been active in wildlife-protection efforts — notably the campaign to ban capture of orcas in Puget Sound waters.

He’ll receive an honorary doctorate from WWU.

Bellingham residents Jerry and Truc Thon will receive the President’s Award at the 9 a.m. ceremony in recognition of their service to WWU and the community. The Trons, who are involved in the fish-processing business, are WWU graduates and strong supporters and donors to WWU.

For more information or for disability accommodations contact the Registrar’s Office at 360-650-3701.

Robert Mittendorf: 360-715-2805, @bhamMitty