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President Randhawa and wife Uzma get their blue on at annual barbecue

University President Sabah Randhawa cooks with the grillmaster for alumni event on Wednesday, Sept. 14. // Photo by Ian Koppe
University President Sabah Randhawa cooks with the grillmaster for alumni event on Wednesday, Sept. 14. // Photo by Ian Koppe

The ninth annual Get Your Blue On BBQ kicked off with new President Sabah Randhawa barbecuing hot dogs and burgers with chef Patrick Durgan. The event, normally in the PAC Plaza, took place in the lawn in front of Old Main on Wednesday, Sept. 14.

Uzma Ahmad, President Randhawa’s wife, said Randhawa likes his food to be a little on the burnt side.

“If he burns anything, I’m sure he’d be happy to eat it,” Ahmed said with a smile. She said he will eat burnt toast and burnt rice.

In response to Ahmed’s joke, Randhawa said he respected the chef and made sure the food was cooked just right.

Randhawa said Ahmed and himself have settled into Bellingham easily. The climate is similar to where they were living in Oregon, he said.

“People are really warm,” Ahmed said. “Hopefully we’ll fit in and contribute and help make Western better.”

The BBQ is an opportunity for Randhawa and Ahmed to visit with a lot of people, Randhawa said. They both had an opportunity to walk around to talk and introduce themselves as people ate.

“We are so thrilled to be here,” Ahmed said.

Randhawa said he is most excited to see how he can help enhance student success over the next year.

Ahmed said she was glad the weather was sunny for the event.

For event coordinator, Jeniene Bengtsson, the barbecue is a nice way to kick off the school year, she said. The event gives out “swag” every year, Bengtsson said. This year duffel bags were handed out; in years past they have given out water bottles, coffee tumblers and coffee mugs, she said.

Rebecca Kellow, an alumna from 2003, said she received an email about the event and wanted to come because of the good food, good music and networking.

Other than the first year of the event, there is a bluegrass band that comes to play, Bengtsson said.

This year marked the 8th year The Woods Coffee has teamed up with the alumni association for the barbecue. The Woods sells a special blend of coffee called the Viking Blend. For every purchase of the blend, $1 goes toward a scholarship for Western students.

Sabah Randhawa and wife Uzma Ahmed socialized with event attendees. // Photo by Ian Koppe
Sabah Randhawa and wife Uzma Ahmed socialized with event attendees. // Photo by Ian Koppe

During a presentation during the luncheon Deborah DeWees, executive director of the WWU Alumni Association, said over the years The Woods has donated the Viking Blend coffee at many events. Over the eight years of partnership 1,858 gallons of coffee has been donated, she said.

The owner of The Woods, Wes Herman, was at the event to present the check to Randhawa.

“It’s 50 percent larger than last year’s check,” Hermann said.

DeWees said the alumni association gives $65,000 in scholarships and The Woods scholarship adds to that amount. This year The Woods donated over $3,000 to that fund, DeWees said. With these two funds over 68 students between freshman and super seniors will get a $1,000 scholarship, she said.

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