Office of the President

June 6, 2017

At the UW, excellence is the norm

Ana Mari Cauce

Drumheller Fountain with Mt. Rainier in the background. Photo by Doug Plummer.It’s that time of year when we commemorate hard work, excellence and a job well done. It’s an important moment — or series of moments, as we work through finals and ceremonies small and large — when we reflect on who we are as a community and the bright future that is possible when we work individually and together to achieve great things.

On Thursday, we will celebrate the 47th annual Awards of Excellence, an event that recognizes members of our community — faculty, staff, students and alumni — for their extraordinary contributions and service. Each year, the ceremony is a humbling reminder of how much the people of the University of Washington give back, to each other, to the University and to the region and world that we serve.

The Awards are a moment to celebrate staff members like Saeid Rastegar, who expertly manages the removal and abatement of hazardous material in the spaces where we work and learn, and students like Narmina Sharifova, who arrived in the U.S. as an immigrant and this year will graduate with honors. It’s an opportunity to honor faculty members who have inspired and engaged students through their passion for teaching. And it’s a chance to say thank you to alumni like General Peter Chiarelli, recipient of this year’s Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award, and Mayor Norman Rice, our Alumnus Summa Laude Dignatus, for their immense service to the UW and the public.

But despite their name, even the Awards of Excellence cannot fully do justice to the excellence that we experience here all the time, across every unit, department and program. In this last year alone, the UW put on over 280 artistic performances, had over 1,200 students present at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and increased funding for research in spite of challenging times. We also produced an incredible 21 Fulbright Scholars, and our student athletes have proven that they are champions on and off the links, the field, the court and the water.

It has been a year full of surprises and delights, but also with its share of challenges and disappointments. I have been encouraged and inspired by how our University has risen to the occasion — with hard work, ringing voices and linked arms. It’s your unyielding commitment to excellence and to our shared values that keeps the UW strong and lights our way forward. Thank you and most especially, congratulations to all UW graduates!