The Passing of President Emeritus Jerry Flora
It is with great sadness that I report the passing of President Emeritus Charles J. “Jerry” Flora, who served as Western’s president from 1967 to 1975. After a decade as a faculty member in the Biology department, President Flora not only led Western safely through some of its most turbulent times, but oversaw a 60% increase in student enrollment and the creation of four new colleges. His strong leadership was a model of candor and integrity that inspired respect and admiration.
In addition to being a tremendous leader, Jerry was an exemplar of the passionate commitment to scholarship, teaching, and community engagement for which Western is so well known. His scholarly work in marine biology was complemented by his famous instructive beach walks with local community members as well as an award-winning children’s television series. Both undoubtedly inspired many to share his early advocacy for the protection of Puget Sound, and to see their relationship to our beautiful natural environment in a new way.
Even after he returned to the Biology faculty in 1983, Jerry remained a proud advocate for Western as its amateur historian-in-chief, authoring “Normal College Knowledge,” and as a champion of the distinct excellence of a Western education.
More information about Jerry’s extraordinary service and contributions to Western and the greater Bellingham community can be found here.
Today, and in the days to come, the thoughts of our Western community are with his wife, Rosemary, and family, filled with gratitude for the transformative influence that Jerry Flora had on Western Washington University.