Welcome Back!

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Dear WWU Faculty and Staff,

Happy New Year! I hope you all found time to relax, recharge, and spend time with loved ones over the past few weeks. I write to convey my very best wishes and sincere thanks to all of you as we shift our momentum into the next calendar year. The past 12 months have been marked by noteworthy achievements, as well as unexpected challenges. As we reflect on 2023 and look ahead to a new year, I believe that we have many reasons to have enormous pride in our accomplishments and to look forward with enthusiasm.

We started this academic year by welcoming our second-largest incoming first-year class in university history, second only to 2022-23, and picking up on the momentum we were experiencing prior to the pandemic. Our faculty continue to provide high-quality education to close to 15,000 students and sustain an excellent portfolio of research and creative work, and our staff complemented those efforts with the services and systems needed to support students and employees and advance our strategic priorities.

I also want to acknowledge the significant impact of the Israel-Hamas conflict on members of our community during the fall term. As we enter 2024, I am encouraged by the engagement of our students and faculty in dialogue and discussion inside and outside the classroom, as well as the ongoing efforts to reach beyond the headlines to gain deeper understandings of current global conflicts.

We have important work to advance during the rest of this academic year to maintain our momentum and actively work to shape our own future as the leading public comprehensive university in Washington. This includes sustaining high-impact teaching, research, and outreach, and creating an environment that enhances the self-worth and sense of belonging of all members of our Western community. This also involves ensuring success in our student recruitment and retention efforts, expansion of WWU Peninsulas programs, and securing additional resources in the supplemental legislative session and through private fundraising to deliver on our mission.

Thank you for being part of this journey, and I invite you to join me in looking forward to what we will accomplish together in the year to come.

With best wishes,