Sabah Randhawa began service as the 14th President of Western Washington University on August 1, 2016. He draws on more than three decades of distinguished service in higher education as an educator and an academic leader.
Before coming to Western, Randhawa served as Provost and Executive Vice President at Oregon State University from June 2005 through July 2016. 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, and prior to that, 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.
During his tenure, OSU experienced a period of extraordinary growth. Student enrollment surged, the campus and educational programs expanded, and many new facilities were built. The OSU-Cascades Campus was developed, and the university’s first comprehensive fundraising initiative, the Campaign for OSU, raised $1.14 billion.
Randhawa’s academic background includes 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. His scholarship focuses on applications of operations research, simulation and decision sciences.
Randhawa’s top priority at Western has been advancing student success and inclusive excellence. Among the many things that drew him to Western are its strong retention and graduation rates, which he sees as a foundation for advancing the success of more underrepresented students in the State of Washington and beyond. In his first year as President, Dr. Randhawa launched a strategic planning process which will conclude at the end of the 2017 calendar year, with a parallel resource-planning process to conclude at the end of the 2017-2018 academic year.
As a first generation college student, Dr. Randhawa has witnessed the transformative power of higher education in his own life, and is committed to making it more accessible, affordable, and attainable to people in the State of Washington, the region, and around the globe.
Uzma Ahmad is a counselor with 25 years of experience in mental health, specializing in building resilience in children and families. Most recently, she worked as a mental health counselor and therapeutic parenting coach with clients through Oregon’s Department of Human Services Child Welfare division. For several years, she directed the DHS Family Sexual Abuse Treatment Program in Albany, Oregon, planning treatment and training therapists to support abused children and their non-offending parents.
Ahmad has taught Psychology classes at the University of the Punjab and at Oregon State University, but treasures the one-on-one connection that counselors build with their clients. Many of her clients – children and families -- experienced child abuse, incest, neglect, or other trauma. “We cannot change what they’ve been exposed to,” she says. “Their life continues, and we can be helpful to them in navigating their life in a positive direction, rather than being consumed by their own pain.”
She’s also fascinated by the challenge of leveraging the state’s complex social services system to help children and families at their most vulnerable. As she began to see that children from emotionally healthy families were more apt to respond to treatment to help them recover from trauma, she became more interested in parent education. The cornerstone of resilient families, Ahmad says, are healthy, resilient mothers. “If we don’t have healthy mothers, we cannot have healthy communities,” she says.
Ahmad grew up in Pakistan, one of seven siblings, and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Applied Psychology at Kinnaird College in Lahore, then a Master of Science in Psychology at the University of the Punjab. She went on to complete an Advanced Diploma in Clinical Psychology at University of the Punjab, and later worked as a therapist, instructor, research officer and supervisor at the university’s Center of Clinical Psychology.
After she moved to the U.S., Ahmad earned another Master of Science degree in Counseling at Oregon State University and continued her career in Oregon. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor and a Nationally Certified Counselor with special training in a wide variety of issues relating to families and children recovering from trauma and violence.
Uzma and Sabah, have a daughter, Tanya Randhawa, who graduated in 2016 from Oregon State University in Digital Communications.