Undergraduate Academic Affairs

October 29, 2010

Message from Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor, October 2010

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Dear UAA Colleagues,

External and internal changes are all around us. As is the case in periods of change, the journey is tremendously ambiguous but will emerge into clarity. In this ever-shifting landscape, a primary question in evaluating our work is how do we want to look in June? How do we want to grow and serve the campus in better, more efficient ways?

As someone who must be comfortable with change and ambiguity, it was inspiring to have President Obama on campus and to be in the presence of so many of our students. I was struck by the high level of energy and enthusiasm of our students, many of whom stand to be leaders. Change as a result of the current economy is a theme from the broadest standpoints of government to the most focused individual experience. Obama spoke about the necessity of working together, rolling up our sleeves to make progress and drive in a common direction. These themes resonate with UAA and the broader University.

As a campus and larger community, we are still in the mindset of a push—sleeves rolled up, regaining our momentum. It is gritty and difficult work that calls on courage, vision, leadership, and constantly assessing where we’ve been and where we are going.

Bryan Crockett has been thinking about this. I recently received an email from Bryan who manages summer orientation in First Year Programs. Bryan noticed the increase in international students and suggested some ideas of how to update the international student orientation to better meet those students’ needs. I appreciated this initiative and leadership to re-think and re-imagine the way our work is done so that we always strive and, sleeves rolled up, push forward to best serve students.

International opportunities are one of the hallmarks of the Honors Program. In Honors, these opportunities are ever-expanding and innovative. Recently, Julie Villegas has coordinated “Writing, Performing, and Curating Millennial Britain,” a course for summer 2011 at Oxford University in which students will work with learning partners from the UW Honors Program, UW Libraries, the Department of English, the University of Oxford and its Libraries and Special Collections. It’s an innovative collaboration that builds upon Honors’ new curriculum.

At the Dream Project’s recent Scholarship Weekend, 260 high school students from around Puget Sound came to the UW campus to begin their search for financial aid that will enable them to attend college. UW alum and Dream Project scholarship expert Sam Lim connected to the group from Berlin via Skype and shared his own life examples of where he came from, where he is now and the work and skill it takes to both find and create opportunity.

In June, I want to be able to look at a unit that is different, better, and invigorated. Are we expanding our reach to connect with students who may not ordinarily find us? Are we re-thinking processes and practices to be sure our methods are efficient and are we changing them if we find they are not? This is a leadership moment for all of us.

Ed Taylor's Signature
Ed Taylor
Vice Provost and Dean