Office of the President

February 27, 2007

Office Hours: Focus on office space

Office of the President

Office HoursOne of the most pressing issues the university faces is having enough space to teach, to conduct research, to serve the public. In this month’s “Office Hours” video, UW President Mark Emmert discusses the purchase of UW Tower Properties, which will provide over half a million square feet of office space. That will enable the university to reduce the amount of space it leases in other parts of the city.

safeco6.jpgPresident Emmert welcomes your thoughts and comments. Only users with a UW NetID will be able to post comments, but anyone may read them. You will be prompted for your UW NetID after you click submit, unless you are already logged on. You also may send an e-mail to

Office Hours links:

Watch the video * | UW Tower Properties Web site

* Options: Windows Media, QuickTime, MP3, Podcast, transcript

  • Denise Choo

    Can we upgrade Oddegaard?! It doesn’t make sense to me to spend so much money for things that I will never see. I’m a student who spends most of my time in this library and the seats are not suitable, the carpet is gross and the ceiling is cracking. I know lots of students study in here since it is open 24hrs of the day, so why can’t we spend money where our students need it!? Don’t spend money buying a whole lot of new computers when the basic needs are not met. The headsets that we borrow don’t even fit on our heads. The computer area heats up to unbelievable temperatures due to the computers themselves not because it is hot outside. Make the environment of study better. Don’t spend money where students will never see the benefits. Upgrade Bagley too! As a pre-dental student who takes Chem classes there, it is of high concern how out-dated that building is when the EE building right next to it is completely modernized. Fix things that need fixing first!!!!!!!!!

  • Hunter Decker

    One thing that I would really like to see a remodel on are the labs at bagley. I have just spent two quarters there and I have never seen an outdated laboratory until I came to this university. Most of the equipment used is old that my grandparents probably used it, which in my opinion makes it prehistoric. I just don’t see why we spend all this money and cant even have an updated chemistry department.

  • Epidemiology PhD Student

    Dear President Emmert,
    I was struck by your comment that students and faculty should not be spread all over the city. In fact, that perfectly describes the present condition of the Epidemiology Department, and to a lesser extent the entire SPHCM, which occupies nearly 30 locations around the city. The space situation is a major impediment to cooperative learning and collaborative research. Much time is wasted in travel, people don’t attend events, and we can’t just walk down the hall to find our colleagues. There are faculty members I’ve never meant and other faculty and students I see only a couple times per year. Attendance at Epidemiology departmental seminars is poor; about 5 faculty on average come to monthly seminars, out of around 70 regular and research faculty. In my opinion, the space issues are far and away the greatest limitation of our program. I recently learned the health sciences building is not even up to code for laboratory animals, with 500 mice killed during a 104F heating problem and the UW on probation, with six months to renovate or risk losing accreditation:
    Please make providing improved working and learning environments with centralized space for Epidemiology and all of SPHCM, a priority. Thank you.

  • Ilona Kellison-Bullard

    I would love to view the videos, however the sound on our computers is turned off. I work in PDS at HMC/PSB

  • Janell Blackmer

    As the UW consolidates its various leased spaces around the greater Seattle area into the UW Tower, how will it plan on accomodating those groups which are grant-funded at off-campus indirect rates? Will the UW Tower be considered on-campus or off-campus for purposes of obtaining grant funding? It would be an extreme hinderance for those groups which currently have an off-campus indirect rate to be required to pay on-campus rates; especially for those groups whose sponsors pay far below the off-campus rate (8% vs 26%).

  • V Knapp

    Thanks for the 2nd installment of Office Hours. I thought is was relaxed and informative. I am hoping that the purchase of the new UW Tower will be the first step on helping to transform the U District into a much better community. As you know, there’s a substantial homeless population including very young kids that desperately need help in breaking the cycle of poverty. There needs to be more interaction between the students at the University and the folks who live and work in the U District. Up to now, the University has been somewhat insulated from the U Distrist neightborhood and it’s issues. Hopefully, with the purchase of the former Safeco Tower, that situation will begin to change dramatically.

  • Katie Kerr

    With the purchase of UW tower, how about using some space there or elsewhere for a new childcare center for faculty and staff? West Campus does not have nearly enough spaces to accommodate the need for childcare. This is an issue of great importance to junior faculty and especially, I suspect, junior women faculty. The university recently got a grant from the Sloan foundation to support family-friendly faculty policies. A support group for new moms is nice, but at the end of the day it’s just window dressing. Additional childcare spaces would signify true commitment to the needs of faculty families.

  • Will Affleck-Asch

    Have to agree with Katie on the childcare center, even though my son would not use it – in high school. Maybe part of one floor could be used for this purpose?

  • Arne Biermans

    I have worked at the UW as staff for about 9 years now. A good part of the space issues we are dealing with is not caused by a lack of space, it is caused by the incredible mis-management of -available- space. The amount of lab space wasted in ChemE for example is incredible and I have no reason to think it is any different elsewhere on campus. In general management at the UW is a disaster. Take the new BioE building, that building is a mess in every way possible.

  • Jaime Barker

    I agree with many of the posts above concerning the lack of upgrading of many of the facilities on campus.

    Oddegaard would be a much more pleasant place to study if it were updated, and when I look at some of the other buildings which have undergone recent (and I’m sure expensive) remodels, I am frustrated with wondering why those funds are being used in specific buildings which serve a very limited number of people rather than the general student population of this campus (such as the libraries).

    As I student who lives on campus I would really like to see the dorms be improved. In the dorms it seems as though funds would be better spent on renovating the rooms rather than fancy signs that point out the obvious in the dining areas. Living in a double I pay $550 a month to live in half of a 120 square foot room, and yet, while here I have had to deal with not having water for almost two days, having the water heater break for an entire day (it always makes for a nice shower) and having my internet fail throughout my floor a day before registration.

    I would really be a happy student (along with many others on this campus!!) if these funds were spent on things that would benefit the larger population, instead of a specific few.


  • Simon Reeve-Parker

    Reading the previous comments makes it clear that updating and renovating buildings in a university of this size is rather like painting the Golden Gate Bridge – a never-ending task.

    I have two questions about the new space in the tower:
    1) At what stage are you in the decision-making process about which operations will move to the tower?
    2) Once more space on central campus is freed up, what specific plans are there to improve services to the UW community in that space?

    I also agree with other posters that a extra high-quality, reasonably-priced childcare center (without the huge waiting lists) would be much appreciated.

    Thank you.

  • William Vesneski

    I’d like to first say that the video series is a great idea. I thought the update on the Safeco Tower was very informative and it provided a great opportunity to hear a bit about Pres. Emmert’s vision for the University’s space needs (as well as information about bills pending in the legislature).

    As the University contemplates space issues, I’d like to make a case for more space at the School of Social Work. Doctoral students have little to no workable space available to them and faculty are incredibly pressed. Perhaps there might be some opportunities for the School of Social Work to expand as the new properties become available?

  • Jeremy Webb

    I just wanted to say thanks, Mark.

  • Claudia Nelson

    May I suggest for the Safeco turned University Tower that at least one of the near to top floors be preserved for a restaurant/cafe or public lounge space (accessible to UW ID-holders, staff, students) for all to enjoy the rarified views. Please don’t make such a venue/view exclusive, but open to the whole UW community which these days can rarely find even a common park bench on which to briefly rest, on or near campus. It adds a livability asset. We need more of these. Same conversion needed for the public-unfriendly plaza that surrounds the ground floor entrance. Thanks.

  • April Ryan

    Thank you Pres. Emmert,
    for taking the time and effort to communicate with us all in this very effective way. You are the first UW president, since I first stepped on campus as a student in 1980, to be so accessible and authentically interested in the university – from student, staff and faculty, to the surrounding community.


  • William King

    Pres. Emmert, I wanted to thank you for your monthly video. As a student I know that more people have seen office hours than the number of times it has been downloaded. Students are spreading the video amongst ourselves over other networks/mediums.

    From the views of an undergrad student, what happens at the upper levels of the decision process for UW is very rare news. The news usually only makes it into a conversation when it involves a heated topic, or is seen as a poor decision. But I would venture to say that this is because there is a small but significant number of students who, for some reason or another, pay attention and are able to get access to facts. There seems to be more open access to the information and facts when the faculty have a strong stance on the issue, or have a heated conversation, etc.

    In the end I would ask that there be more open information about the University and its inner workings. Maybe after this recent video there could be links to the information referenced such as: a map of all leased buildings by UW in relation to Seattle and the UW campus, possibly numbers be published about how much the Safeco building was purchased for or the cost to service the debt, how much UW is paying in current leases along with info about how much office space is used per location, etc.

    Thank you again.

  • Anne Southwick

    I agree with the comments regarding the issue of childcare. As a recent transfer student that lives off campus, I was shocked to see the lack of on campus childcare facilities. Childcare is needed for children of all ages (not just infant through preschool) for staff/faculty AND for students as well!! Its amazing that a few local community colleges have a more productive childcare program!!

  • Jennifer Dougherty

    Thanks Mark. I found this Office Hours much more effective and relaxed than the previous one.

    The indirect cost rate for on-site and off-site research groups is a huge hurdle, particularly in light of those research entities focused on sponsored research for sustainability as they move off site.

    As many Faculty have mentioned there is currently no ‘incentive’ to move research and associated administration off campus at $80.00 per square foot (wet lab space R&T building).

    For those involved in translational research, a focus of the UW research community at large, there is very limited access to colleagues (unless they move as well) or students.

    Finally is also the challenge of instrumentation and equipment being shared by several research groups on campus not being as accessible as Faculty move off site.

    PS: I have no children, but I second the childcare request for Safe Co.