Dear Members of the UW Community:
Autumn Quarter is in full swing, and this year the fall foliage has put on quite the show. It’s the perfect backdrop for welcoming our largest freshman class ever to this community! I look forward to working with our students, and with all of you who have returned or joined us to face the new challenges and opportunities this year will bring.
We’re off to a good start. The University is undergoing an accreditation review this year, which began with a fact-finding team campus visit two weeks ago. We do not have the final report yet, but the review team indicated that we should be commended for our commitment to access, our collaborative approach to undergraduate education, the quality of our programs in areas such as health sciences, libraries, and the success of our Tacoma and Bothell campuses. They were especially impressed with our resilient response to the fiscal challenges of the past five years. During these hard times, we pulled together, rather than apart. The review was nothing short of stellar—even the recommendations fit well with our aims—and we are delighted that we were able to make clear our vision and goals, as well as the hard work of our faculty, staff and students. (See washington.edu/provost for more complete description.)
A few weeks ago in his campus address, President Young issued a particularly important call to action, urging us to do more to address the changing nature of our society and higher education. Discovery remains at the heart of our university—it’s in our research labs and art studios, in our exploration of new models for teaching and learning and in the transformative experiences of our students. It was upon this foundation that President Young used our iconic columns as guideposts, or themes, to inform our work—a commitment to be a university that values access, and is experimental, enterprising, and global.
In talking about access, President Young reinforced our commitment to creating and supporting a diverse student body—in service to our students and their dreams, to our state and its progress, and to our world as we work with this next generation of innovators and scholars to shape the future. Our commitment resides in Husky Promise, our ground-breaking program that allows low-income students to attend the UW without worrying about tuition, and also in our support of middle-class students hit by both the fiscal crisis and tuition increases. And, it’s about expanding access to students who are place- or time-bound via online courses and degree options. Diversity remains a core value, but in these changing times, we need to broaden its scope and quicken our pace.
So, too, with experimentation and enterprise, which reinforce the innovations and collaborations that have long been our hallmarks. Our commitment to solving the world’s most pressing and difficult problems remains as strong as ever: it’s why we’re partnering with researchers all over the world to understand the changes in global patterns of disease; it’s why we’re educating our students in the methodologies needed to undertake critical policy analysis; it’s what happens in our life science labs and our health care centers, and it’s why we founded a College of the Environment. But, today, more than ever, we bring an entrepreneurial spirit to our work, to ensure our discoveries have impact in and on the world. We bring together our life scientists with engineers to create medical devices to assist those with disabilities; and we teach our artists computer science and our computer scientists design. And we ensure that our business majors can learn about the cultures and languages of the countries they’ll trade with. The drive to solve the most difficult problems of our times—educational, social, political, scientific, and artistic—remains unchanged. It’s is in our DNA. But we are doing it in new enterprises that drive us to partner across disciplines, with our communities, with our local businesses, and with educators, scientists, governmental and non-governmental entities throughout the world. The melody is the same, but we never stop trying new keys and tempos, always with upbeat rhythms. That’s the call from President Young.
As he told our new students at convocation, all of us must learn to cooperate and compete in a global world. ALL UW students are international, and the range and scope of our research, scholarship, teaching, and partnerships span the globe. I watched President Young’s address on my phone while at Kennedy airport in New York City. I was on my way back from a visit to Spain where I spent time with undergraduate students in the humanities, studying in our Leon Center; with recent graduates of the College of Education in teaching placements throughout elementary and high schools in Madrid and with faculty in Aerospace Engineering developing new research partnerships.
As we undertake this next phase of academic planning, one that involves addition, not subtraction (yea!), we will be energized and guided by these themes, by the vision articulated so well by President Young that is rooted in, shaped by, and propelled forward by all of us.
Let’s get to work!
Ana Mari Cauce
Provost and Executive Vice President
Professor of Psychology and American Ethnic Studies