Dear Alumni of Undergraduate Academic Affairs,
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What are you doing now? How have your undergraduate experiences impacted your current work? Tell us about it by emailing UAAalum@uw.edu and we’ll include it in the Alumnotes section of this e-newsletter.
This department began as the Office of Undergraduate Education. The first vice provost and dean was the dedicated and enthusiastic Fred Campbell, who came from the College of Arts and Sciences and brought with him a slim portfolio of existing programs, the Honors Program among them. The department began to focus the University’s attention on the academic experience of undergraduates. In a 5-year reflection, Fred wrote, “Between criticism and hope, the time was right for emphasizing that the mission of undergraduate education was at the core of the University.”
Twenty years ago, we were educating undergraduates for a world we had yet to imagine—and that is still true today. Central to our work is to ensure undergraduates are able to access the depth of knowledge and breadth of discovery at the University of Washington so they graduate prepared to be the leaders of the future.
While that message remained constant over the last 20 years, the needs and expectations of undergraduates have changed in substantial ways. This department—now called Undergraduate Academic Affairs—has been a tireless advocate for the undergraduate academic experience and for ensuring that experience remains contemporary and relevant.
One of Dean Campbell’s greatest accomplishments is establishing Mary Gates Hall as a center for undergraduate academic life on campus. Establishing a physical home for undergraduates on a large campus was instrumental in making a statement for the undergraduate experience.
The Mary Gates Endowment for Students is an example of providing students opportunities to deepen their academic engagement and, as a result, change the way the institution views undergraduate contributions to research, scholarship, and leadership. In the last 15 years, the Mary Gates Endowment has supported thousands of students who are now faculty, teachers, doctors, artists, and so much more. Undergraduates have raised the bar for themselves in the research, scholarly, and leadership projects they undertake. They establish nonprofit organizations, make invaluable contributions to faculty research that benefits society, and establish themselves as the knowledge-creators of the future.
The Carlson Leadership and Public Service Center was founded 20 years ago and named after another great civic leader, Edward “Eddie” Carlson. Mr. Carlson was a tireless businessman, civic leader and visionary. In the past 20 years, the Carlson Center has connected 20,000 undergraduates to service and leadership opportunities that extend their classroom experiences into the community. This service-learning work animates the classroom and connects students to community-experts working to resolve issues of disparity and injustice.
Fifty years ago when the Honors Program was founded, then-UW president Charles Odegaard felt that such a program would attract the state’s and region’s most academically-motivated students and help establish the UW nationally and internationally. The Honors Program curriculum encourages interdisciplinary engagement with deep issues on a community and global level. The contemporary problems we face are multi-disciplinary and wide-ranging and the new curriculum challenges Honors students to address them from multiple points-of-view. Today, the UW Honors Program is recognized as one of the top honors programs in the country.
These 50-, 20-, and 15-year anniversaries are markers on a journey that is always forward-looking. When Undergraduate Academic Affairs was established, we didn’t foresee an economic downturn that we are still grappling with and that will change the landscape for students for many years to come. Globalization and technology have fundamentally changed what constitutes a community.
At a recent gathering of deans, chancellors, and campus leaders, we mobilized around the compelling idea that our core commitment as a university is optimizing human promise and that the purpose of this work represents a long-standing commitment to addressing big problems in our world.
We know now as Fred Campbell did 20 years ago that much of the landscape we can’t even predict or anticipate so we need to be a department and University that has faith in human potential and is able to respond to emerging needs with a grand, intelligent vision; an unabashed desire to venture and discover; and a clear sense of values and principles that hold us accountable to the past, present, and future.
As we celebrate several anniversaries this year, we remain focused on the undergraduate academic experience across campus and will continue to lead with an eye on the past, present, and future.
Vice Provost and Dean