Office of the President

Biography of President Michael K. Young

President Michael K. Young

President Michael K. Young

Michael K. Young became President of the University of Washington in July 2011. His path to the UW was the culmination of three decades of teaching, research, public service, and leadership in higher education.

After studying law at Harvard and serving as a law clerk to the late Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, President Young spent 20 years at the Columbia University Law School, teaching, researching international law and human rights, and founding the Centers for Japanese and Korean Legal Studies.

From Columbia, President Young was appointed dean of the George Washington University Law School, where he focused on building top-notch faculty and students and establishing study and research relationships with foreign institutions, propelling GW Law School into a top 20 nationally ranked law school.

Before coming to the UW, President Young served seven years as University President and Distinguished Professor of Law at the University of Utah, during which time the University built over 2 million square feet of research and teaching space and rose in stature to become one of the top 100 universities in the world.

Parallel to his academic career, President Young served on, and chaired the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom from 1998 to 2006, and, from 1989 to 1993, pursued trade, international, environmental and human rights agreements for the United States as Deputy Under Secretary and Ambassador for Trade & Environmental Affairs in the U.S. Department of State.

President Young arrived at the University in the midst of rapidly eroding economic conditions. Dwindling state support and rising tuition threatened the UW’s historical reputation for high quality and broad accessibility. Under his leadership, and marking its 150th birthday, the University has emerged from the Great Recession leaner and stronger, with renewed energy.

President Young’s student-centered focus is getting results: tuition rates have stabilized and the promise of financial help for low-income students has been kept. Each new freshman class is entering with higher GPAs and test scores. To serve those who cannot get to campus, the University is offering a new wave of online courses.

Amid the economic turmoil, the UW is on sound financial footing, earning a “AAA – Stable” credit rating. Despite cuts in the federal budget and sequestration, research funding at the UW has increased this year by over one hundred million dollars. Against a strong headwind, the University is also setting fundraising records, and on track to set even more this year.
More ideas are finding their way out of UW labs and into our economy, where they will improve lives and create jobs. The UW leads the country in licensing its technology and has set a new record for start-up companies built on UW research.

While presiding over these dynamic activities, President Young has remained an active scholar, with two published books and six major law review articles, as well as delivering lectures on law and policy.