Undergraduate Academic Affairs

September 26, 2018

Fall 2018 welcome from Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor

Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Dear Friends of Undergraduate Academic Affairs,

Portrait of Ed TaylorAs a first-generation student at Gonzaga University in Spokane, where I earned my bachelors’ and master’s degrees, and here at the UW where I earned my Ph.D., I found points of connection with faculty and advisers who were truly devoted to the well-being of students and who created a safe, thought-provoking and warm environment for students. My coursework and dissertation work were still hard, challenging and, at times, frustrating. But being able to turn to someone who was unequivocally devoted to my success both as an undergraduate and graduate student meant everything to me.

This year’s entering group of undergraduates is the University of Washington’s largest and most academically-talented group of incoming freshmen and transfer students — 7,050 freshmen and 1,300 transfer students.

These students come to us from all across Washington state, from around the country and the world — they come from small towns and urban settings. Some are returning veterans. Some already know what they want to major in and others want to explore. Many of our students are also the first in their family to attend college. Many are the first Husky in their family, and some come from generations of Huskies. Many receive the UW’s Husky Promise scholarship. In fact, from freshmen to seniors, the UW enrolls more Pell Grant-eligible students than all the Ivy League schools combined, a true testament to our public mission.

Our students came to campus this summer to start their UW journeys through advising and orientation sessions run by UAA’s First Year Programs. First Year Programs’ staff, student orientation leaders and UAA advisers are among new students’ first UW points-of-connection who are devoted to their success.

At orientation, students begin asking questions that will impact their experience here. New students’ questions are often driven by important practicalities of understanding their new home: Where will I study? Where will I live? Will I make friends? Should I get a job? Where do I belong? Will I get the class I need to get into my major? What should I major in?

Many of those questions can be quickly answered, which helps students move on to questions that aren’t so easily answered. Students entering this fall will likely graduate in 2022 or after, and come into their careers beyond the year 2030. As a result, they face a lot of unknowns about work and daily life. To help students focus on their futures, we turn to time-honored, Socratic questions: What does it mean to find a vocation and meaningful work? What does it mean to live a fulfilling life? How will I use my education to make a difference?

In UAA, we are guideposts for students as they connect to, move through and engage in our campus. We encourage students to direct their gaze beyond the study table of today and to their long journey ahead, positioning them to think well about the impact of their choices. We will nudge them toward deeper questions. Questions that will connect them with faculty and graduate students so they can find answers to some of the world’s most pressing problems. We will help them find their academic footing by providing support in their coursework, by connecting with one another, and by inviting them to do research and serve their community.

In the process of connecting to the University community, students connect to a community writ large. Though an individual student’s performance may have enabled them to come to the UW, moving beyond individualism and becoming a community is our utmost aim for students. In her book, “Talking to Strangers,” Danielle Allen describes our democratic ideal as a community, “tied together in a constantly evolving, ever-shifting universe of intricate weave.” That notion of being tied together explains the relationship we, as a public university, have with our community on campus and well beyond the physical boundaries of this place.

First, though, we welcome. We connect. We take the time and journey together toward each student’s success.

Sincerely,

Ed Taylor's Signature

Ed Taylor

Vice Provost and Dean
Undergraduate Academic Affairs

Professor
College of Education