Office of the President

May 15, 2019

Provost’s Town Hall offered insight and vision

Ana Mari Cauce

2019 provost town hall (2)I had the pleasure of attending Provost Mark Richards’ first Town Hall yesterday and his talk was a great demonstration of his thoughtful but action-oriented leadership. Mark modestly describes himself as still being in “the steep part of the learning curve” in his understanding of our large and complex institution. However, his talk showed how quickly he has zeroed in on our incredible strengths as a leading global research university while offering a realistic assessment of the areas in which we can – indeed must – invest more time, energy and, yes, money if we are to have an even greater impact.

Mark’s energetic campaign of walking tours of our schools, colleges and campuses since he arrived has yielded a wonderful appreciation for the incredible work taking place here, from the heroic efforts of our grounds crews during “Snowmageddon” to innovative programs like the new DXArts degree program and a writing program for STEM majors.

He also spoke about the areas where we can do better, identifying his priority areas of focus: affordability and inclusion to ensure that every Washington student can aspire to a UW education; increased compensation to recruit and retain a talented and diverse faculty and staff; addressing our infrastructure needs, including deferred maintenance and needed systems upgrades; and innovation in undergraduate education. He also shared news about a new initiative to boost recruitment and support for graduate students.

Mark’s deep commitment to the mission of access to excellence is reflected in these priorities. And as someone who has been part of this University for more than 30 years, I appreciate his fresh eyes, optimism, and long experience as we work together to make long-term progress in these areas. In his words, “we are in a good position with solvable problems.”

If you missed the lecture, I encourage you to check out the video recording. Thank to you everyone who attended the lecture, in person or via the livestream, and to all who asked or submitted questions. Together, we really are in a good position to meet the challenges we face and to continue to deliver on our great public mission in ways that create more impact to benefit even more people in Washington and beyond.