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In a season of milestones, I’m grateful for our year of great work together

The close of the academic year is an incredibly special time in academia, and at the University of Washington, our own unique array of traditions, milestones and rituals makes this one of the most joyful – and busy!– seasons in our community’s life. College and departmental graduation festivities have already begun even as students are completing their final exams and projects. The weather looks perfect for the campus-wide commencement ceremonies at Bothell, Tacoma and Seattle, and this Thursday, our faculty and staff will gather to recognize and celebrate their colleagues at the Awards of Excellence ceremony. This profusion of ceremonies and capstone events is how our community acknowledges the extraordinary effort, achievements and impact that we create throughout the year, and I am deeply grateful to be part of our collective celebration once again.

This has been a year in which our sense of community and togetherness has been greatly restored as the pandemic has waned. COVID forever changed us all in some ways, and how we work, learn and communicate will always reflect this new normal. But as an institution that exists for the purpose of bringing people together to create and share knowledge, to heal and to help, I appreciate that we have been able to return to the shared spaces and experiences that enable us to do this work more effectively.

Throughout this academic year, our community has created impact for the public good in countless ways: through scholarship, research and discovery, art and literature, healthcare, education, public service and in the achievements and contributions of our students across our three campuses. We came together to root for our student athletes, and we rallied to preserve the legacy of past champions. We’ve said farewell to leaders who have contributed so much to our institution and our community, and we are welcoming new leaders who will build on the excellent work of their predecessors.

This year has also put a spotlight on how we conceive of the role that a public research university like the UW can and must play in creating and accelerating progress for the common good. We have a critical opportunity to leverage the skills, strengths and assets of our large, diverse organization to tackle the most urgent and complex challenges of our time. From our role as a partner in the New York Climate Exchange, to our work advancing chip technology and workforce development, to the development of new spaces for living, learning, discovery and creating community within and beyond the academy, we are squarely focused on making the most of our capacity to ignite progress.

Although the academic year is ending, our work and mission continue, whether that’s here at the UW or as part of a new chapter. Congratulations to all our graduates – we are so proud of all that you have accomplished in earning your degrees.  And to all in our community, whatever milestones you are celebrating this spring, I’m honored and grateful to have spent this academic year working together in service of our shared purpose. I’m looking forward to the good that our community will create together in days, months and years ahead. I wish you a wonderful summer and a chance to refresh from this busy and productive year together.