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You’re having an impact

Each of us came to the University of Washington for different reasons, but what unites us is a desire to contribute to our world. We do that by helping prepare the next generation of leaders and innovators, by serving our community and caring for our neighbors, and through our creation of new knowledge and ideas.

Research, scholarship and creative works define the UW’s mission as a research university. And collectively, you bring to the UW more federally sponsored research than any other public university, on top of the research supported by governments, nonprofits, philanthropists and businesses.

Yet what really sets us apart is the impact of that work — the direct benefits to the lives of innumerable people here in our community and around the world. The UW World Series, for example, brings art and performance to more than 10,000 children and adults each year — as well as to the side of Meany Hall this month — through concerts, workshops and residencies.

That kind of outreach, which is a hallmark of many UW programs, is enhanced by the many ways we shape public policy. Here in King County, research by the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) was instrumental to the Best Starts for Kids initiative. And the Road Map Project, which is working to improve student achievement in South King County, has involved UW faculty since its inception. I spoke last week at the project’s announcement of its 2015 Results Report and am thrilled with the number of UW connections that have been made with this effort, from faculty in the College of Educationto student mentors in the Dream Project.

UW scholarship also guides state policymakers. At a time when political polarization seems to be endemic, Jennifer Stuber, associate professor in the School of Social Workand co-founder of Forefront, has created a remarkable coalition to prevent suicide. Utilizing research into the leading means of suicide — firearms and medications — Forefront enlisted gun rights advocates and pharmacists to create a bill that establishes incentives for gun stores and pharmacies to provide suicide prevention training to employees. If it becomes law, this measure will undoubtedly save lives.

Of course, being a global university, the impact of our research and scholarship is truly worldwide. On February 2, Professor John Vidale from the College of the Environmentpresented at a White House summit on earthquake resilience, emphasizing the critical need for a West Coast earthquake early warning system. And on the other side of the globe, researchers from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation are collaborating with Chinese colleagues, with the nation’s pollution standards being changed as a result of findings from IHME’s Global Burden of Disease project.

These are just a handful of examples from a handful of disciplines. I could easily have written dozens, even hundreds of versions of this message, with entirely different examples, never repeating one. That is a reflection of the incredible breadth of your work.

The tremendous impact we have on so many people’s lives is what sets our University apart. It’s why I’m proud to have spent the past 30 years on the faculty, and it’s among the reasons it’s such an honor to serve as president.