University of Washington Policy Directory

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*Formerly part of the University Handbook
Board of Regents Governance

Regent Policy

No. 5




Role and Mission of the University

Founded 4 November 1861, the University of Washington is one of the oldest state-supported institutions of higher education on the Pacific coast. The University is comprised of three campuses: the Seattle campus is made up of sixteen schools and colleges whose faculty offer educational opportunities to students ranging from first-year undergraduates through doctoral-level candidates; the Bothell and Tacoma campuses, each developing a distinctive identity and undergoing rapid growth, offer diverse programs to undergraduates and to graduate students.

The primary mission of the University of Washington is the preservation, advancement, and dissemination of knowledge. The University preserves knowledge through its libraries and collections, its courses, and the scholarship of its faculty. It advances new knowledge through many forms of research, inquiry and discussion; and disseminates it through the classroom and the laboratory, scholarly exchanges, creative practice, international education, and public service. As one of the nation's outstanding teaching and research institutions, the University is committed to maintaining an environment for objectivity and imaginative inquiry and for the original scholarship and research that ensure the production of new knowledge in the free exchange of facts, theories, and ideas.

To promote their capacity to make humane and informed decisions, the University fosters an environment in which its students can develop mature and independent judgment and an appreciation of the range and diversity of human achievement. The University cultivates in its students both critical thinking and the effective articulation of that thinking.

As an integral part of a large and diverse community, the University seeks broad representation of and encourages sustained participation in that community by its students, its faculty, and its staff. It serves both non-traditional and traditional students. Through its three-campus system and through educational outreach, evening degree, and distance learning, it extends educational opportunities to many who would not otherwise have access to them.

The academic core of the University of Washington Seattle campus is its College of Arts and Sciences; the teaching and research of the University's many professional schools provide essential complements to these programs in the arts, humanities, social sciences, and natural and mathematical sciences. Programs in law, medicine, forest resources, oceanography and fisheries, library science, and aeronautics are offered exclusively (in accord with state law) by the University of Washington. In addition, the University of Washington has assumed primary responsibility for the health science fields of dentistry and public health, and offers education and training in medicine for a multi-state region of the Pacific Northwest and Alaska. The schools and colleges of built environments, business, education, engineering, environment, information, nursing, pharmacy, public affairs, and social work have a long tradition of educating students for service to the region and the nation. These schools and colleges make indispensable contributions to the state and, with the rest of the University, share a long tradition of educating undergraduate and graduate students toward achieving an excellence that well serves the state, the region, and the nation.

BR, February 1981; February 1998; AI, December 2001; BR, July 11, 2013.