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 and situation living and studying on the 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 Marine Scholars Program to develop 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 an entirely new major, or it may mean creating a new thematic emphasis (possible “Land and Marine Water Systems” aka “Mountains to Sea” idea). Either way it will be a highly interdisciplinary, and likely an interdepartmental endeavor.]
  • Investigate ways to establish new tenure-track faculty lines necessary to accomplish this experiential program successfully. One possibility is for new faculty to be based at Shannon Point but administratively housed within departments and able to contribute to the “core needs” of the science departments (occasionally teaching introductory courses in Chemistry, physics, math, biology, etc, in addition to the specialty courses and the mentoring needs of SPMC programs). Such faculty lines will have the benefit of stabilizing the unstable Marine Center faculty (currently all but one are part-time faculty) for long-term sustainability.
  • 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 potentially increasing diving program capacity.
  • Find new donor sources for a new program that could in some ways replace the functional void left by MIMSUP (available housing and a programmatic skills at underrepresented mentoring) – currently looking at models focused on in-state or in-region students, perhaps with community-college partners.
  • Consider investigating alternative income sources from groups (international educational groups) who might pay for the residential and experiential learning resources
  • Expand local and regional outreach opportunities, partnering with school districts in Skagit County (already started with WWU Extended Education)
  • Invest more in “getting the word out” – better website, flyers, general PR, better branding both outside and within the university, better signage.
  • Improve facilities: Continue originally planned remodel of “wet-lab teaching/outreach room.” 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 08.06.2015