UW News

January 16, 2019

UW opens Othello Commons in Southeast Seattle

UW News


Othello- UW Commons opened in mid-January in Southeast Seattle.

The University of Washington today opened the doors to Othello-UW Commons, a new multifunctional partnership space in the heart of Southeast Seattle’s Othello neighborhood.

The 2,200-square-foot storefront will be used for community-informed teaching, learning, service and research. The Commons will be a place for the UW and community partners to build knowledge and capacity that supports positive actions to better the city and region.

“As a public university, a key part of the University of Washington is engaging with our communities. With the Commons, we will have incredible new opportunities to engage with the people we serve in South Seattle. I’m excited to see the impact of new spaces and increased interaction between the UW and the Othello community,” said UW President Ana Mari Cauce.


Across the street from the Othello Link light rail station and about 9 miles from UW’s Seattle campus, the Commons will be used by multiple UW schools, colleges and programs for classes, meet-ups and other events connected to the greater Southeast community. The Commons can be divided into separate rooms for meetings, teaching, learning, leadership, and community and professional management.

Through cutting-edge research, student consulting teams, medical clinics, and high school student development programs, the UW long has participated in the daily lives of South Seattle residents, said Sally J. Clark, director of UW’s Office of Regional and Community Relations. Now, with the Othello-UW Commons space, there’s a place in the community for deeper exploration to occur.

“The Commons will prioritize sustained partnerships that embrace the UW’s commitment to learning from and with local communities,” Clark said. “People should expect to see an array of uses in the space and even deeper engagement with community groups looking to tap the skills, knowledge and energy of UW students, faculty and staff. A little more purple and gold will look good at Othello.”

Conversations with local residents informed the vision for the Othello-UW Commons, said Selam Misgano, UW-Othello Commons manager. Misgano is a dedicated, full-time manager who will work onsite and be the community go-to person.

“The University will continue to ask and to listen, and to shape programming that supports Southeast Seattle’s vision of sustaining an equitable, inclusive and welcoming community,” Misgano said.

Initial funding for the project comes from the UW’s College of Education, Continuum College, Undergraduate Academic Affairs, College of the Environment,  School of Nursing, School of Social Work, Evans School of Public Policy & Governance, the School of Public Health and the Alumni Association, as well as from the Gates Foundation and the Sunderland Family Foundation.