Undergraduate Academic Affairs

April 22, 2010

Message from Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor, April 2010

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Dear UAA Colleagues,

Cathy Beyer in the Office of Educational Assessment and I have been meeting with faculty and students as part of an assessment of the Freshman Interest Group program. Last month, I mentioned a little about what faculty hope for students in their first year at the University of Washington. Now it’s students’ turn to tell us what they hope to experience at the UW. Here are a few quotes from students:

“I hope to learn how to design a circuit board through a computer aided program and build my own device or robot that improves space or medicinal technology. I want to learn how research ideas are approached and evaluated. I hope to learn all the aspects of calculus so well that I can explain it to anyone who asks me on the street about a specific problem.”

“I hope to learn how to use the diversity that I encounter to make myself more rounded and accepting as a person.”

“I hope to step outside my comfort zone and take challenging classes without fearing that my performance in them will hurt my GPA. I no longer just want to be concerned with grades I want to do the work for me and not my professors.”

“Brave, mature leadership.”

“How to be a better critical thinker, a better writer, a more insightful scientist, and more understanding of the world around me.”

What we celebrate this spring is our best effort to fulfill our commitment to our students—to help them achieve their goals as UW students. The Spring Celebration, Undergraduate Research Symposium, recognizing distinguished teaching are all manifestations of how our work impacts students. Additionally, we celebrate Goldwater and Morris Udall scholars and the University’s first Putnam Fellow who is also an Honors student, Mary Gates Scholar, and will be presenting in the Undergraduate Research Symposium.

We touch every student at the University in some way. Our purpose is to deepen and enrich their experience in significant ways by being agents of a mission that creates a proud and engaged community. The broad, three-dimensional part of our work of teaching, research, and service, is alive and vibrant and interdependent. UAA leadership in the undergraduate experience is evidenced in our work stretching from Mary Gates Hall and Guthrie Annex to Kane Hall and Roosevelt Commons.

The work of each unit within UAA builds on our collective purpose: to help students discover their discipline, purpose, or calling whether it be scholarship, research, or service. In The Triggering Town, poet Richard Hugo’s book of lectures and essays on poetry and writing, Hugo wrote, “Your triggering subjects are those that ignite your need for words…your obsessions lead you to your vocabulary.” Hugo was talking about strategies for writing poetry but the same can be said for our work. By connecting students to the University, we are expanding their vocabularies. This leads to creating meaning. And from meaning comes purpose.

This summer, we will be handing incoming freshmen a slim anthology of poems compiled by the Common Book committee. As we enter the fifth year of the Common Book, having explored global health, climate change, immigration, and race and identity formation, we introduce poetry as a genre, as a way to capture voice, inspire imagination, and to highlight the power of the written and spoken word. Since April is National Poetry Month, I encourage you to take a moment and read a poem or a few.

Ed Taylor's Signature
Ed Taylor