Dear Members of the UW Community:
As the fall quarter draws to a close and a new year approaches, I want to thank all of you for your continuing commitment to the excellence of our University. We all know about the serious impacts the economic downturn has had on our state and our UW community, and the certainty of further budget reductions ahead makes our financial challenges even more daunting. Yet the work being done by people across our campuses is not only enabling us to weather these turbulent times — it’s helping us to strengthen our foundation for the future. In her recent message to the UW community, Interim Provost Mary Lidstrom provided an update on the progress of two initiatives designed to help us meet the needs of the present while preparing for the long term. I want to take this opportunity to let you know my thoughts as we move forward.
In my first two months serving as president, I have spent a great deal of time talking with many people both inside and outside the University about the urgent issues facing us all. These conversations have reinforced to me the extensive scope and depth of our interconnections with the communities around us. They touch us in so many ways, and we in turn touch them in countless others. There is no doubt that we are partners in a shared future.
In that vein, I am committed to working as closely as possible in the coming weeks and months with the governor, legislators and other leaders from the community, business and education to address our current economic challenges with solutions that will serve our state well into the future. Washington’s public universities are essential to those solutions and to the long-term health of our state, and maintaining their quality must be a priority. While we recognize that we have entered a new funding environment for higher education in terms of our relationship with the state, it in no way changes our role as a public university. We will continue providing Washington’s citizens with the very best learning opportunities, transforming their lives through experiences in the classroom and outside the classroom, through community and global experiences, through firsthand research and discovery, and through engagement in the broadest sense.
Within our UW community, it is clear that our ongoing funding challenges have tapped the time, energy and resourcefulness of every unit and every person on our three campuses. As I talk to people throughout the University, however, I can’t help but come away feeling heartened and optimistic. That’s because it is equally clear that the focus of our community remains exactly where it should be: on our students at all stages of their learning. They are the reason we are here. They are the reason everyone is working so hard to maintain the excellence of the learning experience. And they are the reason the state of Washington will be successful in the future. By continuing to keep our students at the center of all we do at the UW, I’m confident that our University and our state will be able to overcome our challenges and come out all the better for it.
In case you missed it, our year-end video features some of our students sharing in their own words what their 2010 UW experience meant to them and what their dreams are for the coming year. I hope you will take a few moments to watch this inspirational and enjoyable video — I promise you won’t regret it.
Best wishes as we say goodbye to 2010 and prepare for the challenges and excitement of 2011.
Phyllis M. Wise