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Change comes to Shannon Point Commons

Western's Shannon Point Marine Center Commons was recently renamed after Stephen D. Sulkin. // Photo courtesy of Jordan LeBlonde
Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center Commons was recently renamed after Stephen D. Sulkin. // Photo courtesy of Jordan LeBlonde

Stephen D. Sulkin was honored for his 28 years as director of Western’s Shannon Point Marine Center in Anacortes on Friday, Nov. 20.
Sulkin added five buildings and numerous programs to Shannon Point’s facilities from 1985-2013.

The new Stephen D. Sulkin Commons is an area that accommodates various types of events throughout the year. The commons itself is one of the structures that Sulkin had built during his time at Shannon Point .

Speakers included President Bruce Shepard, Provost Brent Carbajal and current Shannon Point Director, Erika McPhee-Shaw, as well as six faculty members and Sulkin himself.

Gene McKeen, the manager of academic support services at Shannon Point, met Sulkin in the fall of 1986.

During the ceremony, McKeen brought up the diversity of programs Sulkin brought to Shannon Point such as the Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences, the Marine Scholars Program and the Research Experience for Undergraduates among others.

The Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences program increased diversity in the marine sciences at Shannon Point. It was Sulkin’s idea and received 25 years of funding from the National Science Foundation. The funding ended last year.

The Research Experience for Undergraduates is a summer program that selects eight students from a national pool who spend nine weeks at Shannon Point doing research with a faculty supervisor.

The commons is a place where academic and human experiences come together, which is why naming it after Sulkin is so appropriate, McKeen said.

Marine scientist at Shannon Point, Shawn Arellano, spoke about the Marine Scholars Program Sulkin implemented before retiring.

The program began in 2012 and allows incoming freshmen to spend two weeks prior to their first quarter at Western getting first-hand experience with marine research at Shannon Point.

When Arellano was a student in 2000, she said facilities were far less developed, with only one building and one payphone in the dorms.

Brady Olson, who was a graduate student at Shannon Point in 1998, said the students would scramble for the only functioning computer on campus that often times did not work.

“The program has made a measurable impact,” Sulkin said. “A lot of other marine science programs around the nation have been populated by our graduates.”

Despite the award being bestowed on him and all of his accomplishments as director, Sulkin testified to the success of his programs as a sign of hard work on behalf of the students and staff who have worked to maintain them.

“I’m quite honored the university has chosen to name a part of the facility at Shannon Point after me, I know universities don’t take such activities lightly,” Sulkin said.

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