In 1994 Gayle Shipley, then Director of Environmental Health and Safety, proposed that Western present a Staff Art Show. Dr. George Pierce, then Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs, took the idea to then President Karen Morse, who wholeheartedly embraced the idea. She provided funding for materials to construct the art display panels needed to hang the first show on April 14, 1995.
As Shipley explained:
When Eileen Coughlin, Sr. Vice President / Vice President for Enrollment & Student Services, first came to Western, she talked about her philosophy of student learning - how students learn within the framework of a campus community. She stated that students are enriched by everyone they encounter at a university, and that the university must strive to create an environment that honors experiences from all sources. At the time, the Art Department faculty and alumni were having exhibits, and student artists were participating in the 100th anniversary of Western, talking about how art had enhanced their lives. The Western community includes talented staff members some of whom are artists in their own right. There is creativity and talent around campus that is generally hidden. Gayle further affirmed that her favorite thing about the art show is to see different facets of the people she knows.
The annual show is sponsored by President Bruce Shepard, Western Washington University Foundation and the Professional Staff Organization.