Where the Best Come to Teach

Learn from faculty who are committed to your success. They will inspire you with new ideas, challenge you to move past your perceived limits, and support you as you gain a better understanding of our world and your potential to make an impact in it.
Portrait of Hannah Ricker

"It amazes me how much the faculty care about providing the best education for their students."

Hannah Ricker
Business Administration, Marketing Focus
A teacher gives a PowerPoint presentation to a small class of students who are seated at desks and taking notes.

18:1 student to faculty ratio and average class size of 27 students

A professor addresses a class of students standing around a Biology lab. Behind the professor is a flat-screen television displaying different micro-organisms.

99% of classes are taught by faculty, not graduate assistants

A group of students sitting on the top of a mountain side. In the distance, we see a mountain ridge peaking through the mid-day haze.

80% of seniors rated their entire educational experience as good or excellent

Explore the Skies

A Professor of Geology and Astronomy at Western, Dr. Melissa Rice is also part of the Mars Curiosity rover science team—a role that directly benefits her students.

Melissa Rice stands in the center of WWU's planetarium. Above her head, a projection of a galaxy stretches across her on a domed screen.

Rice has been a member of both the Curiosity and Opportunity rover teams for years, and was recently named a Participating Scientist, a grant-funded position that provides significant opportunities for collaboration between the Curiosity team and Rice’s undergraduate students. The grant allows Rice’s students to attend rover team meetings and training sessions at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California and to present their research results at national conferences such as the Geological Society of America annual meeting.

Read About Dr. Rice

“I’ll be funded to participate in the continuing day-to-day operations of the rover, and my students will be trained to perform basic operational roles as well, which is really exciting. It’s going to be a great experience for them.”

Melissa Rice
Professor of Geology & Astronomy

Politics, Race, Humanity

Dr. Vernon Damani Johnson’s journey into higher education was spurred decades ago by his participation in civil rights organizations.

Dr. Vernon Damani Johnson poses in a blazer and their hands hands crossed in front of them. They are standing under tree shade in front of a WWU academic building.

He found the academic world to be a place where he could keep his views, express himself, and continue learning from his peers and his students. In 1986, he started teaching for Western’s Department of Political Science where he currently teaches courses in African politics, politics of development, race and public policy. Through his lectures, public involvement and published work, he continues to demonstrate his commitment to mobilizing our community to make it a place where people of all races can be comfortable.

“Honest conversations about our society, about race and gender and social norms and roles—truly honest ones—have to involve everybody squirming a bit, feeling a little bit uncomfortable, even the professor. I really do believe Aristotle was right. Politics is the 'master science'. It seeks to answer the questions regarding how it is that we live together, and hopefully, how we might live together well."

Dr. Vernon Damani Johnson
Professor of Political Science

Invested in Finding a Cure

Few scientists know Huntington’s disease as intimately as Dr. Jeff Carroll. He trained with top Huntington’s scientists, is a widely-published researcher, award-winning advocate, and sought-after speaker at Huntington’s disease conferences around the globe. He’s also guaranteed to get the disease.​ 

Dr. Jeff Carroll addresses a class of seated students, seated at the front of the class.

A decade before opening his lab at Western, Carroll had been serving in the Army—then he learned that his mom was dying of Huntington’s disease. Desperate for any information that might provide hope, he began a lifelong pursuit of a cure for the disease. Carroll has been at Western since 2011, where the primary research in his lab focuses on testing whether turning off the Huntington's disease gene in the body can help the brain get better. He was named a 2014 Researcher of the Year by the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. 

Read About Dr. Carroll

“I hope for the best and prepare for the worst. I act like it’s going to kill me, but I hope and believe that it won’t.”

Dr. Jeff Carroll
Professor of Psychology
José Carrillo points to wording written on a classroom blackboard.

"Working in Dr. Carroll's lab has taught me a lot about science and what it takes to do research. My involvement in his lab is what I'm proudest of at Western."

José Carrillo from Federal Way, WA
Philosophy and Behavioral Neuroscience (Pre-Med)

Prepare for Disaster

As Huxley College of the Environment’s disaster expert, Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green (Environmental Studies) teaches Western students how to defend vulnerable communities from environmental catastrophe.

Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green addresses a class of students seated in their desks.

Surviving and recovering from natural disasters like hurricanes, floods, and earthquakes requires careful community planning and understanding of how we can craft sustainable infrastructures that support disaster response. This is what Paci-Green's students learn.

Paci-Green, who is also Director of Western's Resilience Institute, has a passion for her work that's shaped by personal experience. While working toward her doctorate, she lived in Turkish communities devastated by an earthquake that had killed 17,000 people. She helped those communities prepare for a future where similar tragedies won't happen again.

“Many people found it easier to think of disasters as unpredictable, chance events, as acts of god. It was then that I realized I could be most effective by shaping the way the next generation of planners, policy makers, educators, humanitarians and others thought about disasters."

Dr. Rebekah Paci-Green
Professor of Environmental Studies

Teaching from the Heart

Heather Davidson (Communication Studies) took a non-traditional path into and through higher education, experience that allows her to connect with her students and them with her. It has also impacted her lessons, which include the teaching of empathy—the capacity to understand or feel what another person is going through. 

Heather Davidson addresses a class of students who are seated at their desks.

Davidson is the faculty advisor for the Self-Designed Event Planning minor and the #WeAreWWU campaign, and serves as a facilitator for the campus-wide Equity and Inclusion Effort. She teaches skills that give her students increased professional marketability across a variety of industries, such as program planning, social media marketing strategies, online content development and delivery, and audience analysis. She also builds lasting connections with her students.

"Hands down, no question, my student-colleagues make my job the wonderful work it is. I am grateful for their eagerness to explore and learn, enriched by knowing and working with them, and sustained by the ripples outward once they leave Western and go on to do their work in this world."

Heather Davidson
Professor of Communication Studies
Corban McKay poses in the Red Square of WWU, smiling with their hands crossed at their waist.

"I decided to go out of my major path and tried a professional communications course with Heather Davidson. By far the most amazing class I have ever taken. Our grade was based off of what our team did to make the Bellingham Brain Cancer Walk happen. I would take that class over and over again if given the chance."

Corban McKay from Everett, WA
International Business Student

The Art of Movement

Dr. Rich Brown is an active director, is regularly published in theatre journals, and was named Carnegie Foundation’s Washington Professor of the Year in 2015. He’s also a first-generation college graduate with a deep admiration for the drive and work ethic of his students, and their passion for learning.

Dr. Rich Brown is laying on the floor, coaching a couple of students who are performing an acrobatic dance movement. Around them are other students, mid-dance.

Brown has taught at Western for more than 11 years. He teaches theater courses at all levels, and specializes in Theatrical Movement courses and Devising Production, a course in which students create an original work for the main stage theatre season. All students write, design, and perform the piece.

"Theatre in general, and acting in specific, teaches empathy and compassion. It teaches resilience, self-worth, work ethic, collaboration, and problem-solving. All those 'soft skills' that employers are always seeking, theatre teaches them in spades."

Dr. Rich Brown
Professor of Acting & Movement