Vision and Mission of the Shannon Point Marine Center (SPMC)


Educating leaders in science, education, policy, and stewardship through experiential learning integrated with innovative marine and environmental scientific research.


We envision students choosing to enroll at Western Washington University because they know they can pursue interdisciplinary studies while learning from expert faculty and from their peers in a respectful, inclusive, empowering, and immersive situation living and studying on Pacific Northwest coastal waters. Shannon Point Marine Center scientists will maintain an ethos of teamwork within an infrastructural framework necessary to accomplish high quality research and exceptional student mentoring.


Scientific investigation, freedom, creativity and integrity. Teamwork. Empowerment of students and a commitment to diversity. We are inspired by the natural environment of the marine Pacific Northwest and wish to pass along the ethos of stewardship aroused by this passion.


Overriding goal: Take advantage of our position as the historically established marine laboratory at Western Washington University, with Western’s reputation for excellence in environmental sciences and policy and Shannon Point’s position of strength and a national reputation for training underrepresented/multicultural students, to grow programs that achieve our mission of educating leaders in “science, education, policy, and stewardship through experiential learning integrated with research.”

How will we go about doing this?

  • Build upon the success of the recent pilot WWU Marine Scholars Program to lead development of new opportunities for Western undergraduates to enroll in a course of study with a clear path leading them through experiential learning and a residential experience at Shannon Point. [This may mean developing a thematic emphasis, but a preferable route is probably an entirely new major (possibly “Land and Marine Water Systems” or “Coastal and Watersheds Sciences” aka the “Mountains to Sea” idea). Either way it will be a highly interdisciplinary, and likely an interdepartmental endeavor.]
  • Better integrate Shannon Point Marine Center with undergraduate programs on campus and establish new connections with all realms of student life and in departments with whom we historically have had fewer connections. Opportunities may include, for example, courses and student-faculty interactions with units such as Fine and Performing Arts, Woodring College, Extended Education, Fairhaven College, the College of Business & Economics, Viking Union, Student Activities, and many more.
  • Investigate ways to achieve the staffing necessary to accomplish experiential programs successfully. One possibility is for faculty to be based at Shannon Point but in shared appointments with departments if in tenure-track positions, able to contribute to the teaching needs of the Huxley and Science departments, in addition to the teaching and mentoring needs of SPMC programs. Such faculty lines will have the benefit of stabilizing the Marine Center faculty (currently all but one are appointed as staff, and in non-tenure-track positions), leading to long-term program sustainability.
  • Expand local and regional outreach opportunities, partnering with school districts in Skagit County and (already started and ongoing with WWU Extended Education in our new Community Youth Programs).
  • Invest more in “getting the word out” – better website, flyers, general PR, better branding both outside and within the university, better signage.
  • Explore building, or perhaps just “re-branding,” graduate programs commensurate with developing improved undergraduate experiential learning programs (see above).
  • Investigate ways to build a robust and sustainable infrastructure supporting the educational and research programs at the center. Critical infrastructural needs include staff in administration and in positions running instrumentation and analytics, and possibly modifying dive program capacity, depending on the university’s goals.
  • Consider working with the Development Office to find new donor sources for scholarships, recruitment salary, participant costs, and other costs that could replace some of the capacity for underrepresented- and diversity-focused student programs left by MIMSUP (National Science Foundation-funded Multicultural Initiative in the Marine Sciences Undergraduate Participation) ending in 2015. May fit within newly proposed Coastal & Watersheds Science major, or perhaps within re-envisioned Marine Science Scholars program moving forward, but we are also open to other ideas.
  • Consider investigating alternative income sources from groups (international educational groups) who might pay for the residential and experiential learning resources
  • Improve facilities: Continue originally planned remodel of “wet-lab teaching/Community outreach classroom.” Consider expansion of housing facilities to accommodate more student residential experiences (see above) as well as for inviting in more visiting scientists, who enhance our mission by being additional scientists and student mentors.
Page Updated 10.26.2016