Office of the President

September 27, 2021

As we return in person, kindness, grace and compassion are our gifts to one another

Ana Mari Cauce


Feeling anxious about in-person work, school? Here’s how to ease the transition

UW Resilience Lab — promoting well-being at the UW

Let’s Talk (Seattle campus students)

Accessing mental health care (Seattle campus students)

Counseling services (UW Tacoma students)

Counseling services (UW Bothell students)

UW CareLink (PEBB benefits eligible employees, their dependents and household members)

The start of every academic year at the University of Washington is unique and exciting in its own way, but in all of our University’s 160-year history, we have never had an autumn quarter like this one. I expect we are all feeling a mixture of both anxiety and excitement about the transition back to shared spaces and experiences. As we manage through, remember to pace yourself, and please respect the choices and boundaries that others set to keep themselves safe; you can never know what health or life issues others may be dealing with or what losses and disappointments they have experienced. Our great strength is our deep sense of caring and the recognition that we are all interconnected. By extending grace, patience and kindness to one another — and ourselves — we can co-create a healthier community, grounded in equity, wellness and compassion. And, please don’t hesitate to ask for help if you need it. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness. In the sidebar, you will find resources that can be useful as you ease into the year.

Over the last few weeks, as I’ve attended my first in-person meetings with colleagues and students, I’ve been bolstered immensely by once again being engaged with our outstanding community of people united by a mission of teaching, learning, discovery, patient care and public service. It’s exciting to welcome not only the more than 8,800 first-year and 3,000 transfer students across our three campuses who are new to the University, but also our sophomores and last year’s incoming transfer students who will be experiencing the UW’s campuses and classrooms for the first time. In addition to our many returning faculty and staff, we also get to welcome new faculty and staff who joined our community over the last year and a half, as well as several new deans and leaders. And I’m delighted to be welcoming two new chancellors — Chancellor Kristin Esterberg at UW Bothell and Chancellor Sheila Edwards Lange at UW Tacoma, making this the first time in history that all three UW campuses have been led by women.

I am so proud of the commitment we’ve already shown to keeping each other and our surrounding communities safe: from wearing masks and getting vaccinated, to the incredible work of the facilities team and other onsite staff members who have made our physical spaces clean and safe to return to. Thanks to the extremely high rates of vaccination among our students, faculty and academic personnel, and staff, and to the work of our health-care workers throughout our region, we are one of the most vaccinated universities in one of the most vaccinated states in the nation. As a reminder, all students and personnel are required to be vaccinated unless they are granted an exemption, and it’s easy to get a free, safe, effective vaccine if you still need one.

On Wednesday, we begin another year of learning, growth and impact — the things that define our shared Husky experience. As we do, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on the experiences that have brought you here, and on the future you hope to create, wherever you may be. If you’re on our Seattle campus on Wednesday, you’ll hear bells ringing periodically throughout the day — the historic Denny Bell, the UW Carillon Bells and the Gordon Stuart Peek Foundation Memorial Change Ringing Bells. Bells have traditionally signaled both beginnings and endings, celebrations and remembrances. At this moment of transition to once again sharing spaces, we hope they remind you to reflect with empathy on our shared experience of the past year and half as we move ahead together.

I also invite you join me on October 19 for my Annual Address, which will once again be held in wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House and livestreamed. As we continue our efforts to end the spread of COVID-19 and combat the systemic racism and inequity that have so often been amplified by the pandemic, I look forward to talking with our whole community about how we can work together to support equity and the well-being of everyone at the UW.

The last 18 months have been like no other, but through it all, our mission has remained clear: building a better world, for all. Our capacity for kindness, empathy and compassion is great, and our ability to chart our path forward together is strong. I am grateful to be undertaking this crucial work with you.