Western’s Board of Trustees held a meeting Wednesday, March 30, that resulted in the selection of Sabah Randhawa, current Oregon State University Provost and Executive Vice President, as their preferred candidate to replace Bruce Shepard as president.
While Randhawa was unanimously chosen as the board’s preferred candidate, he does not have the job yet. Randhawa will be invited to campus next week in order to meet with students, faculty, staff governance leadership and members of the Presidential Search Advisory Committee.
“I am honored and excited to be considered as the preferred candidate for president at Western Washington University.”
After those groups present their feedback, the board will conduct another meeting next week and vote on whether or not Randhawa will be the 14th president of Western.
Retiring President Bruce Shepard will be leaving the university after his eighth year as Western’s president on June 30. President Shepard declined an invitation for comment on this story.
The meeting was held in executive session in Old Main room 340 at 9:30 a.m. and moved into open public session at 10:25 a.m. The trustees discussed potential candidates and selected Randhawa.
Randhawa was selected from over 400 candidates.
In a press release sent out from Western’s Director of Office Communication & Marketing Paul Cocke, Randhawa commented on his nomination.
“I am honored and excited to be considered as the preferred candidate for president at Western Washington University,” Randhawa said. His passion for higher education aligned with the achievements and focus on student success at Western, he said.
The Board’s Vice Chairwoman Sue Sharpe was the first of the trustees to weigh in with her opinion and choose Randhawa as her nominee. She said Randhawa’s credentials, beliefs, accomplishments and character all contributed to his selection as the board’s preferred candidate.
Sharpe said the trustees wanted someone who would make student success a top priority.
“I found it interesting in both of his interviews with us his very first comments without being prompted were his concerns about the achievement in this country in higher education.”
Randhawa received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the University of Engineering and Technology in Pakistan in 1976. He then obtained his master’s in industrial engineering from OSU in 1980 and his doctorate in industrial engineering from Arizona State University in 1983.
Randhawa impressed the board with his personality and professionalism. “Dr. Randhawa is a person of character,” Board Chairwoman Karen Lee said during the meeting.
“He is quietly strong, with dignity, humility and humor. He doesn’t rush to judgement, but is a man of action.”
Randhawa has held a number of administrative positions at Oregon State University since 1983. These including the Department Head for Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, Associate Dean for Operations in the College of Engineering, Interim Dean for the Colleges of Business and Vice President Provost for Academic Affairs and International Programs until he became Provost.
According to the press release, Seth Brickey — a student trustee — chose Randhawa because of Randhawa’s international background and the belief he would bring a global perspective for higher education to Western.