Sabah Randhawa, former Oregon State University provost and executive vice president, became Western’s 14th president on Aug. 1, 2016.
Randhawa succeeded Bruce Shepard, who retired June 30, 2016 after eight years as Western’s president.
During a lengthy, nationwide search, Randhawa impressed trustees with his commitment to diversity and inclusion, shared governance, strengthening students’ academic experience and closing the achievement gap.
“Dr. Randhawa is the person that we believe will be the next great president of Western Washington University,” said Board of Trustees Chair Karen Lee when Randhawa was selected by the trustees. “He’s an exceptional person. He has a sense of humor. He’s highly regarded for his commitment to students, to social justice and to the academy of higher education. And he is a person of dignity and humility.”
Randhawa said he is thrilled to become Western’s president.
“The first thing I would like you to know,” Randhawa said during a public forum soon after he was selected as the preferred candidate, “I am passionate about education, about educational institutions, and really about enhancing educational institutions. As a first-generation student, I owe my career to education. One of the commitments I made when I switched careers into education from working in industry was to provide those same opportunities for others across the globe.”
Randhawa first came to OSU from Pakistan as a graduate student in the 1970s and ended his career there as OSU’s second-ranking administrator, reporting directly to the president as both the chief operating officer and chief academic officer. During Randhawa’s tenure OSU experienced a period of extraordinary growth. Student enrollment surged, the campus and educational programs expanded, and many new facilities were built, such as the Lois Bates Acheson Veterinary Hospital, the Hallie Ford Center for Healthy Children and Families, the Linus Pauling Science Center, and the International Living Learning Center. The OSU-Cascades Campus was developed, and the university’s first comprehensive fund raising initiative, the Campaign for OSU, raised $1.14 billion.
Randhawa earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in 1976 from the University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan. He earned his master’s degree in industrial engineering from OSU in 1980 and his doctorate from Arizona State University, also in industrial engineering, in 1983.
Previous to becoming OSU’s provost, Randhawa was vice provost for academic affairs and international programs at OSU from 2001 to 2004. He was interim dean of OSU’s College of Business from 2001 to 2002. Prior to that, he was associate dean for operations in the OSU College of Engineering from 1999 to 2000 and department head of Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering from 1993 to 1999.
Randhawa said he and his wife Uzma Ahmad, are eager to learn more about Western and its community.
“I really, truly am deeply honored for this opportunity to lead Western,” Randhawa said. “We are really looking forward to making Bellingham our home.”