The UW lost a great friend and colleague on February 9 when Kathryn Waddell, executive director of Health Sciences Administration, passed away after a long battle with cancer.
Waddell, known for her unwavering strength and spirit, was appointed to the executive director position by UW President Mark Emmert in August 2007. In her role, she reported to President Emmert as well as to Provost and Executive Vice President Phyllis Wise and to Senior Vice President and Treasurer of the Board of Regents V’Ella Warren.
Waddell worked for 18 years at the UW, first at UW Medical Center where she worked for Rehabilitation Medicine and more recently, in various roles in the UW Health Sciences. As executive director of Health Sciences Administration, she oversaw a number of administrative areas including capital planning, academic support services, risk management, health sciences community relations and University-wide activities such as Environmental Health and Safety, employee occupational health, and student health. She was responsible to the Board of the Health Sciences Deans of the schools of Dentistry, Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Public Health, and Socical Work for all business, finance and personnel activities. She also oversaw the health sciences’ interdisciplinary programs, including the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute, the Center for Human Development and Disabilities, the Institute on Aging and Washington National Primate Research Center. Prior to that Waddell was the director of Finance and Administration for UW Health Sciences Administration.
“With Kathryn, what you saw was what you got,” said Darrell Waddell, Kathryn’s husband. “She was upbeat, had an amazing sense of humor and was able to put work and life into perspective. There was never a dull day in the Health Sciences, and Kathryn always had an iron in the fire but was able to deal with those fires. Details did not overwhelm her — she always maintained perspective.”
When Kathryn took on her position in 2007, her goal was to develop a cohesive vision for the Health Sciences “teams.” She held a retreat that included all of her direct reports with a goal of finding unification among the varied entities as well as identifying best practices to share among her departments.
Kathryn’s remarkable successes as an administrator stemmed from many sources. She was organized, clear-thinking, and committed to improving the services offered on behalf of quality health care. During the five years of her illness, she continued to work while undergoing extensive treatments, and was always positive and focused. David Anderson, director of the Washington National Primate Research Center, described Kathryn in a letter to his staff as “one of the most intelligent, reasonable, and likeable people I have ever worked with.” All of Kathryn’s colleagues would agree, it was an honor and a great pleasure to know Kathryn.
Kathryn is survived by her husband Darrell and daughter Allison. A memorial will be held from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Thursday, February 25, in Hogness Auditorium at the UW Health Sciences Center. A reception will follow in the Health Sciences Lobby. Please join friends, colleagues and others in mourning the loss and celebrating the memory of this wonderful member of our community. Kathryn’s family has requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the University of Washington Foundation, Box 358045, noting that the donation is in memory of Kathryn Waddell. The resulting fund, as yet unnamed, will support projects in Health Sciences Administration.