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UW faculty connect with Washington communities on Faculty Field Tour

Last week, more than two dozen recently hired UW faculty members traveled across Washington by bus to meet and learn from diverse communities throughout our state.

On the annual five-day UW Faculty Field Tour, participants experience Washington’s culture, Native history, diversity, economics and geography. The UW has been conducting the tour for more than two decades to build community partnerships, create opportunities for research and learning, and contribute to the University’s goal of improving the lives of Washington residents. Faculty gain a better understanding of our state and the diverse regions our students come from.

Participants were joined on the tour by Provost Mark Richards, who conducted a Q&A with faculty and also provided an impromptu lecture on the geology of the Northwest.

The tour visited communities throughout Washington, including Olympia, Toppenish, Vancouver, Richland, Spokane, Nespelem, Hanford and Everett.

“Touring the state with new faculty is one way we convey what it means to be a public university, of and for the state of Washington,” says Thaisa Way, professor of landscape architecture. “It’s an opportunity to meet the people and visit the places that define our state.”

Way and Edward Taylor, vice provost and dean of undergraduate academic affairs at the UW, discussed the importance of the tour in a recent op-ed in The Tri-City Herald.

“Our purpose is to better understand the place where we teach, do research, serve and live,” they write. “We travel this road because 75 percent of our students are from Washington and our region, and many will remain here when they graduate. Our work is intimately connected to the inhabitants, structures, values and ideas that make us who we are.”

Stops on the tour included Mount St. Helens, the Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic, Heritage University, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Boeing’s manufacturing facilities and the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO). The tour also stopped at the Schoesler wheat farm in Ritzville, where participants learned about farming and land conservation techniques.

“This trip has been a superb opportunity to learn about the landscape and people of this state, which are diverse and fascinating,” says Patrick Boyle, assistant professor of bioengineering.

Participating new faculty members included two UW deans and represented a range of disciplines and departments, including architecture; Asian languages and literature; biobehavioral nursing and health informatics; business analytics; culture, arts and communication; electrical and computer engineering; environmental health sciences; the Information School; interdisciplinary visual arts; mechanical engineering; real estate; Scandinavian studies; social work; and more.

Watch the slideshow below to see some photos from the Faculty Field Tour.