UW News

June 12, 2024

UW President Ana Mari Cauce will step down in June 2025, following a decade in office

UW News

University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce announced Wednesday that she will step down from her leadership role at the conclusion of her second five-year term in June 2025 — a transition that has been planned for several years with the UW Board of Regents — and return to her faculty position. In her upcoming final year in office, Cauce said she is committed to advancing the work of the UW and ensuring a smooth transition.

Cauce’s career at the UW began in 1986, when she was hired as an assistant professor of psychology. Her rise through the university shattered one glass ceiling after another: from department chair — first in American Ethnic Studies and later in Psychology — to dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, then provost before being selected as interim president and named the UW’s 33rd president in 2015. She became the first woman, first Latina, and first openly gay person to serve as president.

Beyond these historic firsts, the impact of her presidency touched all corners of campus life, enhancing access to higher education for students, advancing research and patient care, uniting disciplines to address global challenges, and fostering the UW’s relationships with communities near and far. Cauce also championed the Husky Promise, expanding access to higher education for all eligible students in Washington, leading to record increases in enrollment along with increasingly diverse classes.

woman at podium with purple W

UW President Ana Mari Cauce will return to the faculty after serving two five-year terms.University of Washington

“Ana Mari Cauce is an outstanding president, who has led the UW through some of the most tumultuous times in its history. She has advanced the University’s public mission through partnerships with legislators, civic leaders, and the philanthropic community,” David Zeeck, Chair of the UW Board of Regents said in a statement on behalf of the Board. “Few university presidents now serve 10 years. The University has been fortunate to have Ana Mari in this position since 2015.”

The Regents will share details about the search for a successor in the weeks to come.

While president, Cauce led the university during the COVID-19 pandemic, switching to remote learning to ensure continuous, high-quality instruction, and she maintained a laser focus on the student experience at the UW while navigating tense challenges that often reflected the national mood around race, social justice and global events. As provost, she introduced the Husky Promise, which covers tuition at the UW for Washington residents who need it most, and she partnered with leaders at the state’s other universities and colleges to advocate for the Washington College Grant, one of the most generous financial aid programs in the nation.

Under her leadership, the UW has seen massive growth in its work toward advancing research and patient care, including the opening of the Center for Behavioral Health & Learning, joining the Weill Neurohub, opening the Brotman Baty Institute and the Garvey Institute for Brain Health Solutions, and expanding the Institute for Protein Design. She oversaw the establishment of the UW School of Medicine-Gonzaga University Regional Health Partnership, and the formalizing of the UW’s partnership with Fred Hutch Cancer Center.

And Cauce took decisive action in the ever-changing world of college athletics, including moving to the Big Ten Conference to create more opportunity for UW student-athletes to continue to compete in and win national championships.

“While I never imagined that my path would lead me here when I arrived as an assistant professor almost 40 years ago, the chance to lead this great public university has been an immense honor and a wonderful experience. I’m deeply grateful to be part of this incredible community that creates so much positive impact in the world,” Cauce said.

Raised in Miami after emigrating with her family from Cuba at the age of 3, Cauce earned a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in psychology, with a concentration in child clinical and community psychology, from Yale University.

She’s been widely recognized for her teaching and scholarship, earning the UW’s 1999 Distinguished Teaching Award, being elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences in 2020 and the National Academy of Medicine in 2022.

Cauce said she plans to use the next year to shore up support for higher education in the Legislature, work to encourage civil discourse and learning across differences, advance interdisciplinary research and teaching, break down traditional academic silos, and ensure a smooth transition to the Big Ten.

“The UW is a world leader in providing access to excellence for students and discovery and innovation that serves communities around the world,” Cauce said. “My focus now and in the year ahead is to ensure that we continue to serve that public mission and create positive change for future generations.”

For more information, contact Dana Robinson Slote at drslote@uw.edu or 206-457-6058.

What others are saying:

“I am deeply grateful for Ana Mari’s leadership and friendship during her tenure as UW president. Ana Mari will depart with a long list of accomplishments that have strengthened our world-class university. Among the many, I especially appreciate her work to grow our Clean Energy Institute which has provided such an economic boost to our state and is helping new businesses take root all over the state, and her support for our incredible new, first-of-its-kind Center for Behavioral Health and Learning. She brought a refreshing change from the days when I was cut from the UW basketball team. I wish Ana Mari the best of luck in all her upcoming endeavors.” — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee

“President Ana Mari Cauce’s staunch advocacy for women and underrepresented communities in STEM will have lasting impacts on future generations of alumni to come. Under her leadership, the University of Washington doubled the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering and secured massive federal, state, and private investment to support the next generation of innovators in semiconductor manufacturing and quantum computing. We owe Dr. Cauce a debt of gratitude for all she has done for UW to continue its legacy in producing world-class problem solvers.” — U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)

“Ana Mari Cauce’s record at the University of Washington is that of a champion for the university, its students, and its home city, continuously growing as a leader from faculty to administrator to a nationally recognized and respected university president. For me, as mayor, and for my wife, as a former regent, it has been an honor to work with someone who is so passionate about the University of Washington, someone who is such an effective advocate for our cherished alma mater, and someone we are also lucky to call a friend.” — Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell

“From day one of her presidency of the University of Washington, Ana Mari Cauce asked a vitally important question — ‘What can the UW do to help the people and places you represent?’  Over the years, on project after project, in community after community, Ana Mari and her team stepped up to make a difference — not only for UW students but for the entire state. She consistently showed the profound impact of higher education and innovation. I’m grateful for her leadership and partnership, and I look forward to what she will continue to do for the UW during her final year as President.” — Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-Wash.)

“Thank you to President Ana Mari Cauce for her years of service to the University of Washington and our entire state. Her tremendous leadership has made a lasting impact both on and off campus. And she has helped make important progress on expanding access to higher education and advancing research and innovation.” — Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.)

“I have always appreciated that Ana Mari is transparent, clear minded and principled in ensuring the UW is serving the state of Washington and that she believes 100% in our public university working for the people and the common good. She believes diversity is necessary for everyone to achieve academic excellence and for the UW’s public engagement, and her authentic connections with students, faculty, staff and the broader community have been vital in helping the university navigate its most difficult challenges.” — Alexes Harris, UW sociology professor and Faculty Regent

“Throughout her tenure, President Cauce has been a skilled relationship-builder, a champion for student success, and a strong advocate for the importance of public universities like the University of Washington. On behalf of the UW Foundation Board, we are grateful for her exemplary leadership these past 10 years. The University of Washington has reached august levels under President Cauce’s leadership, and while we continue to strive, we must acknowledge that this university has never been viewed so highly worldwide. We are all looking forward to walking alongside her as we continue to advocate for the UW in the year ahead.” — Ken Denman, UW Foundation Board chair

“As a proud UW Tacoma alumnus and veteran, it has been a privilege to work alongside President Cauce and witness her commitment to engaging students and alumni from all three campuses. Under her leadership, she has prioritized listening to alumni voices here in Washington, as well as around the world. We appreciate all she has done to build a strong UW community, bringing us closer to the university and to one another.” — Joe M. Davis II, ‘16, University of Washington Alumni Association Board President

“It is a privilege to work with President Ana Mari Cauce. During her presidency, which will span a decade when she completes her term next year, she has led the University of Washington through several years of unprecedented challenges for higher education. The hallmark of her leadership is her profound commitment to the students, faculty, staff and alumni of the UW, where she has served 38 years as a faculty member and in various leadership roles, including department chair, dean, provost and president. Her remarkable legacy is apparent in the university’s tremendous success in research, education and service and also in the lives of thousands of the UW community members she touched.” — Barbara R. Snyder, President of the Association of American Universities