Office of External Affairs

Washington statehouse

George Washington statue

Building a boundless future

At the UW, we challenge, motivate and inspire the thinkers, doers and leaders of today — and tomorrow. Investing in the University of Washington means investing in the state of Washington.

2015 saw the longest single-year legislative session in our state’s history — 176 days, to be precise. But sometimes, great things take time, and this session produced something truly remarkable.

For the first time in modern memory, the Legislature reduced tuition at the public baccalaureate universities and community colleges, making college more affordable for thousands of Washington students. And, just as important, this reduction will not affect the quality of our students’ education — the Legislature replaced the reduced revenue with substantial new public investment.

This action was historic, and unprecedented nationally. Much credit is due to the visionary elected officials who fought to make this happen, but an equal amount of recognition goes to the students, faculty, alumni and friends of the UW who have worked tirelessly since the Great Recession to make public higher education a priority in our state.

With the resources granted by the Legislature, the UW is improving access, sustaining excellence and fueling innovation here in the state of Washington. But there is still much more to be done, and we need all of you — our remarkable students, world-class faculty, dedicated alumni, and many other friends and advocates — to continue to support the UW as we work together to create a world of good.

Advancing access

Even with tuition reductions, many students still rely heavily on funding from the State Need Grant, which provides additional financial aid to those who need it most. More support for the State Need Grant is imperative — without it, many students in our state face staggering financial challenges as they work toward their degrees. Currently, despite being eligible, more than 27,000 students do not receive Need Grant funding because of insufficient state funds.

The Dream Project connects UW student-mentors with first-generation and low-income students in King County high schools, making the college admissions process less daunting. In addition to assisting high school students with SAT prep, applications, essays, financial aid and scholarships, the Dream Project also teaches UW students about issues of access, social mobility and educational opportunity.

Meili Powell

Meili Powell

Future teacher Meili Powell has volunteered for the Dream Project since her freshman year. A former Dream Project mentee at Ingraham High School, Powell didn’t hesitate to become a mentor herself, advocating for expanding access and helping aspiring college students navigate the complex admissions process.

“It was my experience with the Dream Project that inspired me to pay it forward in my community by becoming a mentor,” Powell says. “Working with the Dream Project has given me a broader perspective of public education.”


Sustaining excellence

The Puget Sound region is a bustling hub of technology, innovation and entrepreneurism, with a sharply rising demand for STEM graduates. To meet these needs, the UW is planning to build a new Computer Science & Engineering (CSE) building, providing the space to double the number of CSE graduates — and cultivate the tech leaders of tomorrow.


With significant support from the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee, the UW’s Clean Energy Institute was founded in 2013. Thanks to the state’s investment, as well as additional federal and foundation support, the Institute is combining scientific research and technology — integrating solar energy into the electrical grid and building a green future.

Daniel Schwartz

Daniel Schwartz

Daniel Schwartz is driven to discover ways to make efficient, environmentally friendly energy into reality. As the director of the UW’s Clean Energy Institute and a board member of the Washington Clean Tech Alliance, Schwartz is developing economically and environmentally sustainable energy solutions for the state and the world.

“Top students, faculty and local partners are keen to tackle the grand challenge of an affordable and scalable clean-energy future,” says Schwartz. “We need to continue to take on this challenge, and that stretches all the way from the science lab to the business community.”

Fueling innovation

The UW’s Innovation Imperative, a commitment to bolstering and expanding the innovation ecosystem at the University and in the community, is a catalyst for the economy of our region, state and beyond. Under the Imperative, the UW has spearheaded the Global Innovation Exchange, a pioneering partnership with China’s Tsinghua University and Microsoft; CoMotion, a UW-based hub of collaboration that expands the UW’s impact on the region; and the Innovation District, which connects the UW to the surrounding community.

With its beginnings as a UW-grown startup, MultiModal Health uses technology to improve arm and hand rehabilitation. By combining therapist-designed exercises with automatic measurements and assessments, MultiModal Health helps patients track their progress, making therapy exercises more engaging — and effective.

Victoria Chambers

Victoria Chambers

Victoria Chambers spent her summer creating virtual games that help children recover more quickly from injuries and disorders that result in loss of hand movement. As an Innovation Scholar at MultiModal Health, Chambers combined her background in early childhood and family studies and psychology with a passion for innovation — improving the healing process for children and their families.

“Physical limitations affect children’s learning by a surprising amount,” Chambers says. “Thanks to MultiModal Health, we can approach this problem creatively, across disciplines, and innovate new games that help children get better faster.”


Stay engaged

The University is grateful to those who advocated on its behalf, and to Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature for their reinvestment in public higher education in 2015. The reduction in tuition was historic, and the leadership and vision of Washington state’s legislators will markedly benefit UW students for years to come. Students, faculty, alumni and friends are encouraged to continue leading efforts to:

  • Increase funding for the State Need Grant, making public education more accessible for Washington state’s low-income students
  • Encourage elected officials to continue to make investment in public higher education a top budget priority
  • Secure additional funds for programs and buildings that are home to the transformative ideas of the future

Learn more about how you can make an impact in Olympia at