UW College of Built Environments E-news
May 2009  |  Return to issue home

Message from the Dean

College of Built Environments

Dear alumni and friends,
First, the budget. As most readers know by now, the state of Washington lost $9 billion in revenue this fiscal year, leading legislators to reduce the University of Washington’s biennial budget by $214 million—26 percent, the largest such cut in the nation. Offsetting this cut is a one-time infusion of federal stimulus dollars along with temporary authority to increase undergraduate resident tuition 14 percent, plus ongoing authority to adjust nonresident, graduate and professional tuition. Bottom line: In FY2009-11, the UW must find ways to operate with $73 million less than it did at the start of our current biennium.

The College of Built Environments’ share of this cut is 11 percent of its current operating budget, or $837,000, mitigated somewhat by temporary funds the provost allocated from new tuition revenues based on her comprehensive analysis of student credit hours. We plan to take 70 percent of this cut in the college office, primarily through the elimination of central administrative positions, minimizing the burden to our students, faculty and departmental staff. Over the next few weeks I'll be working with all four chairs to determine the most equitable distribution of the remaining 30 percent, with the shared aim of protecting, if not strengthening, our core academic mission.

Spurred on by the breathtaking magnitude of this contraction, we’ve intensified our strategic thinking. The full college faculty met all day April 25 to caucus over a unified 21st-century college agenda. We asked ourselves four questions: What are the five most pressing problems facing society? Where and how do our strengths intersect with these problems? How do we best leverage these strengths? What is our competitive advantage as a college? In response to these questions, eight faculty writing teams produced a composite draft outlining new priorities and programs, including several powerful organizing themes that will drive future interdisciplinary research and design inquiry. “Now Urbanism,” for example, expands the college’s longstanding commitment to the problem of sustainable metropolitan growth, since by 2030 cities will support 60 percent of the world’s population, most dramatically in developing countries. “BE Without Borders” extends the college’s longstanding commitment to community engagement and social equity, suggesting bold new forms of global citizenship as the first, best path to environmental integrity and justice.

We look forward to reporting on our progress in the weeks and months ahead. As always, we especially value your comments, questions, and suggestions.


Dean Friedman signature


Daniel S. Friedman, Ph.D., FAIA
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May 2009  |  Return to issue home