After a year and a half of remote work and study, the UW campuses burst back to life.

September 29, 2021, was a particularly momentous first day of school. After 18 months of quiet, the University of Washington was once again abuzz with the energy of more than 60,000 students across all three campuses. But those quiet months had been far from stagnant — work was underway every day. During the long stretch when classes and much other activity went remote for COVID-19 safety, instructors were teaching in new and innovative ways. Students were learning, from apartments and parents’ homes and locales around the world. Ground was broken for new buildings. Art was installed. Patients were treated and vaccines administered at an astounding rate. Research pushed forward. Plans were being laid for the future — and for the day when students, faculty and staff could safely return.

Every member of the UW community faced losses big and small, and there were periods of uncertainty and fear. But there was also forward movement — innovation and perseverance, selflessness and determination. There was Husky spirit: an undaunted belief that not only would we return, but we’d do it with a renewed sense of gratitude and purpose. And we did.

Four picture collage: Quiet study space lettering on glass in the library, interior shot of sunlight in the library, exterior of Kaine Hall as a lone person walks by, overhead view of the cherry blossoms on the Quad.

While much of the UW community was away, the sounds of silence reverberated beyond the libraries to all corners of our three campuses.

A social media post of snow covering the lawn by Denny Hall

5 photo collage: A person covered in a blanket works at a laptop, medical students wear masks in a classroom, researchers construct sensors on a ridge, a frog is held in a researchers gloved hand, a researcher uses a net to collect specimens.

By embracing technology and innovative thinking, instructors found new ways to reach their students — even in classes that typically require hands-on learning.

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The Quad, always one of the most popular gathering places for students, fell silent during the months of remote learning.
Social post: a graduate poses with family members
Social post: A person in graduation cap and gown walks through Red Square
A person wearing a graduation cap sits on the step of Gerberding Hall
Four photos in a collage: Two people exit a helicopter, a dog at a vet clinic, a masked person received a vaccine shot, a masked researcher in a lab.

The year’s challenges were met by Huskies redoubling efforts to help their community — from administering vital COVID-19 vaccines, to caring for the people and pets in Tent City 3.

Three photo collage: Workers in safety vests view a worksite, a statue is installed by a worker, a statue of a seated person at night.

While largely empty of people, the Seattle campus welcomed an impressive new addition: “The Seated IV,” a bronze sculpture by Kenyan American artist Wangechi Mutu, was installed in front of the new Hans Rosling Center for Population Health.

The American Flag and Pan-African flag fly on a flag poll against a blue sky.

The Pan-African flag was raised on campus to celebrate the recognition of Juneteenth as an official state holiday.

Two photo collage: A construction walks along a beam, a construction site.

Work continues on the new state-of-the-art Health Sciences Education Building, embodying the University’s commitment to collaboration across disciplines.

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October marked the return of the UW’s world-class plant collection to campus, as 3,500 unique species were moved into the new UW Biology Greenhouse.
The Pack is Back is written in block lettering on stairs in the Quad. People with lighted lanterns.

After an unprecedented year and a half, Huskies were welcomed back to campus with gratitude, joy and excitement for the year to come.

Social post: A crowded Red Square at night during a student event.
Social post: A crowded Red Square at night during a student event.

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UW Tacoma was awash in purple and gold as students streamed back onto campus.
Four photo collage of move-in days: Two students in UW gear, a student with a parent, four people sit on a residence hall bed, four people sit on outdoor stairs at UW Tacoma.

It was an emotional move-in day for more than 10,000 students, after a long hiatus and uncertainty about when “normal” college life might begin or resume. This year, it was the first time on campus for both freshmen and sophomores.

Social post: Red Square with several people facing Rainier Vista
Social post: Gerberding Hall exterior
Social post: Suzzallo Reading Room with book in foreground.

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A formerly empty Red Square welcomed Huskies and their families for the trifecta of W Day, Homecoming and UW Family Weekend.
Three photo collage: Researchers wearing face masks and lab coats work in a lab, a teacher wearing a mask conducts a lecture, several people in masks walk through a tree-lined area.

In-person classes and collaboration were a welcome change after many months of online learning.

Social post: A person poses for a picture by an outdoor fountain on campus.
Social post: A person poses for a picture by an outdoor fountain on campus.
A person hugs the Husky mascot on the sidelines of a football game.

UW President Ana Mari Cauce embraces Harry the Husky as fans return to the greatest setting in college football — Husky Stadium.

Silhouettes of a group of people are cast as they cross Red Square on campus.