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Mourning the loss of Paul G. Allen, a true innovator and friend of the UW

Today we mourn the loss of Paul G. Allen, a man of extraordinary vision, leadership and generosity whose impact on our world is profound. Paul was a true innovator — co-founding Microsoft and launching the revolution that put a computer on every desktop — and what many would call a Renaissance man. The breadth of his curiosity was a hallmark of his life, whether it was delving into the mysteries of the brain, exploring the promise of artificial intelligence, working to protect endangered species, rocking out on the electric guitar or cheering on his beloved Seahawks.

Ana Mari Cauce and Paul G. Allen
With Paul at the naming of the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering

At the UW, Paul expressed his wide-ranging passions through his philanthropy. Just last year, the Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering was established, continuing a relationship dating back to when a young Paul and Bill Gates would sneak into UW labs to borrow computing time. At the ceremony, Paul clearly enjoyed reading to the assembled crowd the letter he received so many years ago kicking him out of the lab after he borrowed a little too much time. But his true joy came in helping advance innovators and innovation. Through his support for the Allen School, as well as for scholarships and research in dozens of schools and departments across the UW, Paul’s legacy will continue to grow. Indeed, he is one of only a handful to reach Regental Laureate status, the highest honor we can bestow on a supporter.

Paul’s father, Kenneth, served as associate director of libraries for 22 years, and it is in his honor that the Allen Library is named. Meanwhile, Paul’s mother, a public school teacher, is the namesake of the Faye G. Allen Center for the Visual Arts, which expanded the Henry Art Gallery. Paul also advanced the work of UW Medicine — the Allen Discovery Center is named for him and he supported medical research in fields ranging from global health to genome sciences. And Paul’s support for KEXP, MoPOP, the Upstream Music Fest and so many other non-profits and causes is a testament to his passion for sharing music and the arts with the community.

Paul defined himself as a seeker of the next Big Idea, and one can only wonder what big ideas he would have brought to fruition if given more time. He understood the power of the arts and sports to heal, renew and build community and it’s hard to imagine our world or our city without him — he was truly Seattle’s “12th Man.” But I’m grateful for what he created during his 65 years, and for the legacy that those of us inspired by his drive and generosity will continue to build upon. Our condolences go out to his family and loved ones.