Looking back, moving ahead

Extending a hand. Sharing an idea. Offering a gift.

It’s simple acts — like reaching out and connecting people — that often have the long-lasting effects no one typically predicts. Combined with gifts from others, the impact of generosity can be even greater. This is the story of the University of Washington.

The Territorial University building, 1870

The Territorial University building, 1870.

In 1861, one collective act of generosity ignited a spirit of discovery from which our University grew. It also spurred to action a supporting community that recognized the power of education in building a strong region — one that today still shapes how we think and how we live.

The future promises an equally remarkable story for the University of Washington. As we move into the next 150 years, contributions from alumni, partners and friends will expand the UW’s impact on the people in our region, country and the world, likely in ways we cannot yet imagine.

The First 50 Years

From Forested Knoll to the World Stage: A UW Campus Begins

President Edmund Meany with Professor Trevor Kincaid, 1905.

President Edmund Meany with Professor Trevor Kincaid, 1905.

For the earliest Northwest pioneers, the rough and tumble frontier of the 1850s presented its share of challenges. With small reserves of money and food, the settlers persevered through wet, muddy conditions, cultural skirmishes and the seemingly endless towering trees needing to be removed before crops could be planted. Yet through the tests of the time, industrious leaders and hard-working citizens of the day envisioned and worked for the creation of a powerful future for those who would follow. This perseverance would give us the University of Washington that we know today. Continue reading …

The Middle 50 Years

Building Boom to Biotech: the UW Evolves

Boeing mail plane Model 40A, 1927.

Boeing mail plane Model 40A, 1927.

When forward-looking Henry Suzzallo began his UW presidency in 1915, the University was just over 50 years old. He was known for telling University friends that the work of this time was “…building a university of a thousand years.” His conviction inspired many, and his era of leadership ushered in a period of remarkable expansion in enrollment, buildings and programs. Continue reading …

The Last 50 Years

Taking Past Success to New Places: UW Moves Toward the 22nd Century

Researcher in the Ocean Sciences lab, 2009.

Researcher in the Ocean Sciences lab, 2009.

The most recent chapter in the UW’s history has been written through the generosity of friends and supporters who have helped define its character, reputation and in some cases its area of research focus. Numerous gifts in the most recent 50 years have supported the dreams of students, the growth of academic programs and some of the most innovative and awe-inspiring research being conducted in higher education.

The result not only transformed nearly every corner of the UW’s three campuses, but resulted in some of the most ambitious acts of giving the University has seen seen to date. Bolstered by endowed chairs, scholarships, program support and new facilities, the University’s teaching and research exploded in the past half-century, and moved beyond the boundaries of Washington state to respond to society’s growing need for understanding, meaning and answers. Continue reading …

Looking back, moving ahead | The First 50 Years | The Middle 50 Years | The Last 50 Years

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