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Farewell Don Alper, Welcome David Rossiter to WWU’s Center for Canadian-American Studies

March 31, 2015

Above: David Rossiter, new director of Canadian American Studies at Western Washington University (02/15).

December 31, 2014 marked the end of an impressive era of Canadian Studies leadership with the retirement of Dr. Donald K. Alper, Director of the Center for Canadian-American Studies at Western Washington University.

Our two centers share a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant that designates us as one of only two National Resource Centers on Canada in the United States. Since 1988, UW and WWU have written nine successful Title VI grants amounting to more than ten million dollars in joint funding. Don has worked tirelessly and collaboratively to implement grant activities and support student learning with new courses and cross-border opportunities that have changed the landscape of Canadian Studies at our universities, in the Pacific Northwest, and across the country.

Don earned his doctorate from the University of British Columbia and was faculty in the Political Science Department at Western for 42 years. Since 1993, he served as director of the Center for Canadian-American Studies and, since 2004, he also directed WWU’s Border Policy Research Institute, the only institute in the United States with research focused solely on the Canada-US border.

As remarked by WWU President Bruce Shepard, “Don Alper has been an outstanding leader for Western, for Washington, and for the development of Canadian-American relations. His work with Canadian-American Studies and the Border Policy Research Institute has been a model for others to follow, and a source of great pride for Western. His scholarship, teaching and service to the community, both locally an internationally, are without parallel.”

For his outstanding contributions in teaching, scholarship, administration and public affairs in Canadian Studies in the U.S., Don has received numerous merit awards, including the Certificate of Merit (2007) from the International Council of Canadian Studies and the Donner Medal (2007), the most distinguished award given by the Association for Canadian Studies in the United States.

Don’s dedication, scholarship, and partnership will continue to have a strong and lasting impact not only on the academic communities at WWU and UW but also on the future of Canadian Studies in this country.

Just as we bid Don farewell at the end of the year, on New Year’s Day, we welcomed David Rossiter as the new Director of the Center for Canadian-American Studies at WWU. David is an associate professor in Western’s Department of Environmental Studies in Huxley College of the Environment and has been a core faculty member in the Canadian-American Studies program at WWU since 2005. He has also served as Editor of the American Review of Canadian Studies from 2011-2015.

David received his doctorate in Geography from York University in Toronto, Canada. A broadly-trained human geographer with interests in cultural, historical, and political sub-fields, his research focuses on contested spaces and resources in British Columbia and the U.S. Pacific Northwest. His past projects have explored early industrial forestry in B.C.; anti-logging campaigns in B.C.; the intersection of aboriginal claims and environmental politics in both B.C. and the state of Washington; the spaces of the B.C.-Washington border; and pipeline politics in B.C. He is currently in the midst of a study of historical geographies of nature and recreation in the mountainous North Shore region of Vancouver, B.C.

It is an exciting time of transition for the Pacific Northwest National Resource Center on Canada (NRC). As David put it: “I am extremely honored and excited to have the opportunity to take on this leadership role with Canadian-American Studies at Western and NRC. The program strongly reflects the University’s emphasis on both interdisciplinary and international study, and I look forward to working with students, faculty, and staff to continue the strong tradition of scholarship, teaching, and outreach that has marked our Center for over four decades.”

In the mid-80s, W.A. Douglas Jackson, founder of the Canadian Studies Center at UW, began working with colleagues Bob Monahan and Don Alper at Western Washington University to develop a joint program in Canadian Studies. In 1988, the UW and WWU received the first Title VI grant from the US Department of Education, to form the Pacific Northwest National Resource Center on Canada.