UW Undergraduate Academic Affairs E-news
April 2010  |  Return to issue home

Welcome from the Dean

Dean Ed Taylor
Dean Ed Taylor

Dear Alumni of Undergraduate Academic Affairs,

Many of you participated in a Freshman Interest Group—a FIG—during your first quarter at the University. FIGs are one way we welcome freshmen to the University of Washington and help students find an academic community. A student’s first-year experience can often determine whether she will not only return for her sophomore year but also factors into whether she will persist through graduation.

It’s been a while since we’ve examined FIGs, how they’re working and what we should do differently. In that spirit of inquiry, we are in the process of assessing FIGs and I’ve enjoyed speaking with faculty, staff and students in small focus groups about the University of Washington freshman experience. The groups begin with the simple question: What kind of experiences do we want our freshmen to have at the UW?

Two of our dedicated and popular faculty in biology, Scott Freeman and Barbara Wakimoto, who educate thousands of undergraduates, speak of the importance of creating community, engaging with faculty, and beginning to ask and answer sophisticated questions. Others talk about our commitment to students as they transition from high school to the University and about the multiple ways in which we help students grow and change so when they leave here they are substantively and demonstrably different than they were when they entered.

At the University of Washington we are innovative in research that serves society and we cultivate the next generation of researchers. We make timely discoveries and educate students on methods of inquiry so they carry forward the tradition of discovery. We are passionate and devoted teachers of students and we constantly strive to refine and reenvision our craft and calling. We are engaging and committed advocates for students and our work ensures that undergraduates are always at the heart of this University.

You’ll see evidence of all this through data points like the high number of freshmen who return for sophomore year—the UW freshman retention rate is 93%. You also see it in alumni and student stories. In this issue of the Undergraduate Academic Affairs alumni E-newsletter, we celebrate excellence in teaching through the Distinguished Teaching Awards; we share news about a revised curriculum for the Honors Program and eavesdrop on a conversation between Honors alumnus Attorney General Rob McKenna and his daughter, current Honors student, mentor and ASUW Vice President Madeleine McKenna. We will celebrate UW students’ contributions to our local and state-wide communities, congratulate Jesse Burk-Rafel, our latest national scholar and welcome Nancy B. Hertzog, our newly named director of the Robinson Center.

Through these and your own stories, you see what our students experience from the time they enter to the time they become alumni.


Dean Ed Taylor




Ed Taylor,
Vice Provost and Dean
Undergraduate Academic Affairs

April 2010  |  Return to issue home

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