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Thank you for an extraordinary Husky experience

Dear campus community,

As you are likely aware from this week’s news, I have made the bittersweet decision to accept the presidency of Texas A&M University.

For nearly four remarkable years, I have been honored to work alongside you, the world-class faculty, students and staff who make the University of Washington one of the greatest public universities in the world.

Together, we have put in motion many ambitious initiatives, from a strong focus on innovation and experimentation to enhancements to the undergraduate experience. The University is on an upward trajectory that will see these efforts flourish with the undaunted spirit and passion that are hallmarks of the UW. Your tireless work has made the UW a global leader in research and education, and I am proud of what we have accomplished together.

To the UW’s alumni, supporters, educators, employees and students, thank you for your time, talent and treasured friendship. You’ve given Marti and me an extraordinary experience, and it has been our honor to serve you.


Michael K. Young

President Young finalist for Texas A&M presidency

University of Washington President Michael K. Young on Tuesday was announced as the sole finalist for president of Texas A&M University. He is expected to assume his duties at Texas A&M in the spring.

In a statement, Young said: “Deciding to be a candidate for the presidency of Texas A&M University was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I was not looking to leave the University of Washington, but the allure of the recruitment process led to conversations in which the opportunity to bring new leadership and fresh ideas to another outstanding university presented itself with some force.” Read more…

Bill Ayer, chair of the UW Board of Regents, also released a statement: “The news about UW President Michael Young and Texas A&M University has come as a surprise to the Board of Regents. We are saddened and disappointed at the prospect of President Young departing from the UW, but we certainly wish him and Marti well. He has accomplished a great deal at the University, including a number of bold initiatives whose fruition will come after he is gone. On behalf of the Board, I want to thank him for his leadership.” Read more…

Disruptive innovation at the UW

Entrepreneurial thinking is central to the University of Washington in the most profound and powerful way imaginable. It is also reflective of our state. I see a UW where all students have access to the basic skills and resources for taking a creative solution and pursuing its delivery into the world. It’s a vision of empowering all UW students to have more impact in society. We are embarking on an exciting next phase in enabling innovation mindsets and entrepreneurial thinking across campus and the community.

We foster innovation on our UW campuses not just because of its deep economic impact, but also because we know it can create a world of good. Our students are embracing their areas of interest by working to solve the world’s most pressing problems. Teaching innovation and creativity gives our students an extraordinary advantage, whatever path they ultimately choose to pursue. We want every single UW graduate to have the opportunity to be part of the energy and passion that is our innovation ecosystem: to know that they can change the world.

The UW Innovation Agenda is an integrated plan to drive positive change for our state by empowering students and researchers to learn, discover and build the solutions to tomorrow’s challenges. At its core, it is about taking our innovation ecosystem to the next level — by leveraging our strengths across the UW and throughout our region as we work together.

This includes improving access to computer science and engineering classes and actively working to spark innovation in students, faculty and staff across the University.

Part of our Innovation Agenda is about “disruptive innovation” — something our new Vice Provost for Innovation Vikram Jandhyala is introducing as the exciting next phase of CoMotion’s mission: developing spaces, programs and partnerships for students and researchers to come together, to collaborate and to foster innovation with impact. The Innovation Agenda is strongly focused on building Innovation Ecosystems that help us create and realize ideas, and CoMotion serves as a catalyst for that mission.

We must find ways to bring our ideas, our knowledge and our inventions to people wherever they are. To address key 21st century challenges, we must be accessible, collaborative, experimental and global.
We need to approach problems in new ways, embrace mistakes and be willing to start again with a different strategy to find better solutions. We need to be nimble, adjusting course — not only in the research space, but in the teaching space as well.

We live in an increasingly global world — a world filled with international and comparative dimensions. That includes much of the work we are doing here at the University. So we must engage globally. We need to interact with people from other places, to talk to them, to share ideas, to find commonalities, to manage differences.

We need to find avenues to bring outside expertise from around the world into our University to enhance our research. We have to engage across cultures, languages, countries and global challenges. Even locally, international and global understanding is critical.
We want to make it easier for those outside of UW — at other institutions, in other regions like this one, in other states and countries — to engage and do business with us in a more productive approach that results in less friction and more opportunities for all teams involved.

Innovation is about empowering our students and researchers to learn, discover and build the solutions to tomorrow’s grand challenges. It’s about fostering that entrepreneurial mindset on our campuses and in our communities.

Yes, there is a direct cause and effect between our region’s rise to prominence in the innovation space and the UW’s tremendous success in taking innovation to impact — here, and around the world. And together, we can grow our region’s innovation ecosystem to new levels of success to make a real-world impact.

Open Mike: A Conversation with President Young

open mike event

Dear students, faculty and staff,

Please join us for a series of events to continue the conversation President Michael K. Young started in his Annual President’s Address. From enhancing the Husky student experience, to better serving our community, deepening our research impact or expanding UW innovation, our best ideas start with you.

There are three opportunities to talk with President Young in the coming weeks and months:

Focus on staff

Tuesday, Feb. 3, 3:30–5 p.m.
The Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, Microsoft Atrium

Focus on students


Focus on faculty


Questions, concerns and input from all UW community members are welcome and a reception will follow each event.


Martin Luther King Jr. Day at the UW

On Monday we honor the work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with a day of reflection and service. It is right to do so — always, and especially now.

Challenging cultural currents envelop the United States and countries abroad: racial and ethnic tensions, questions of bias and justice, heart-rending violence, and patterns of equality and inequality are as central today — albeit often different in form — as in the 1950s and 1960s of Dr. King. In this environment, we believe it is imperative for the University of Washington to step into, and not away from, our values of honest inquiry, careful analysis and essential — and often difficult — conversations.

We, as a community, are doing just this. In recent weeks our faculty, students and staff have held forums on policing and racial minorities, on media coverage of race and racial groups, and on legal and institutional responsibilities. Several faculty are planning “teach-ins” for the first week of February, our nation’s Black History Month. Faculty and staff across a number of academic units are helping to found a new Center for Communication, Difference and Equity that blends research, leadership development and community partnerships.

In two months, the world will commemorate the 50th anniversary of marches in Selma, Alabama, that spurred the landmark Voting Rights Act. A dozen faculty, students and staff will travel with UW alumni and others from Seattle on a weeklong civil rights pilgrimage, which will culminate with an international gathering at the Edmund Pettus Bridge. In 1965, after marchers reached the Alabama capitol in Montgomery, Dr. King invoked the continuing push for equal opportunity and justice, asking “How long?” He answered with some of his most inspiring words: “Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

We are not bystanders in this mission: As one of the world’s foremost public universities, we must help the moral arc to bend. We do so in what we research, how and who we teach, and what we challenge our students to achieve. We do so in serving our communities as leaders, partners and citizens of Seattle and the world. On this day of reflection and service recognizing the profound work of Dr. King, there are numerous ways to engage with our communities. But as a lifelong journey, let us all commit to move the universe toward justice.


Michael K. Young, President
Ana Mari Cauce, Provost & Executive Vice President

More students participating in foreign exchange programs a top priority

Caroline Kennedy
U.S. Ambassador to Japan Caroline Kennedy

Visiting Tokyo this week, I had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, the Honorable Caroline Kennedy. We had a substantive discussion about President Obama’s commitment to doubling the number of students participating in foreign exchange programs, which the Ambassador also expressed as a top priority.

The University of Washington has active and longstanding student exchange relationships with nine Japanese institutions: Aoyama Gakuin University, Keio University, Kobe University, Kyoto University, Kyushu University, Osaka University, Tokyo Institute of Technology, University of Tokyo and Waseda University. In 2014, 59 UW students studied in Japan.

We value and support our partnerships with leading Japanese universities. The UW and Waseda University have been building collaborations across several different areas and have begun a new partnership with Waseda’s Center for Learning, Teaching and Technology. This venture leverages the skills of UW staff and faculty in pedagogical innovation by pairing them with peers from Waseda to develop a truly collaborative project.

In addition, the UW is one of Waseda’s key American partners in developing a Global Leadership Fellows Program: The UW, Berkeley, Columbia, Georgetown, Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth send outstanding students with leadership potential to study a specially developed curriculum at Waseda. In turn, these universities receive Waseda students whom they mentor in leadership studies.

From our iconic campus cherry trees to our state’s rich history with Japan, the UW treasures its longstanding relationship with our Japanese partners. Over 100 years ago, in 1908, 15 Japanese students helped found the International Students Club, and now, in 2014, Japanese is the second-most studied language at the University and demand for the study of this country’s history, culture and language has never been stronger. This warms my heart more than ever, as my affection for Japan has only deepened since I first traveled there more than four decades ago.

We will continue to seek opportunities to deepen the UW’s relationship with our Japanese friends and partners, and celebrate our mutual collaborations — past, present and future.

CNN Films explores the Ivory Tower

We are in the midst of an important national conversation about the value of a university education. CNN Films has explored the costs and benefits of a college degree in a provocative documentary called “Ivory Tower.” The film takes a broad look at issues many universities are facing, including poor graduation rates, the growing student debt load and the challenges and obstacles — both financial and, in many cases, cultural — faced by low-income and first-generation students. And while I applaud the exploration of these issues and encourage you to watch it, I also offer what can be lost in the discussion: that some public universities are pioneering solutions in passionate, world-class ways. The University of Washington is leading the pack.

The role of public higher education as an engine of social mobility and societal advancement is at the core of what the UW stands for as one of the world’s great public universities. A central tenet of our mission is to do all we can to ensure that any student who has worked hard and earned the academic credentials to be admitted to the UW can be here, regardless of economic circumstances. We are proud of our record as a gateway to boundless opportunity for all students. As a society, we must ensure this gateway continues to be open.

A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute found that in 2013 Americans with a four-year degree earned on average 98 percent more per hour than those without a college degree. Similarly, the U.S. Census Bureau reports that the lifetime earnings of college graduates are nearly $1 million more than those with a high school diploma. For individuals, a university degree can be the difference between poverty and prosperity.

College graduates are also most likely to embrace — as part of their life’s endeavors — a commitment to making the world a better place. They are 43 percent more likely to volunteer in their communities, according to Tufts University’s, whose data also suggest that more than two-thirds of young people with bachelor’s degrees engage with our political process: They vote. For American society, indeed for the world, these virtues are the requirements of our shared progress. They include the understanding that prosperous and vibrant communities, healthy families, active citizenship — indeed democracy itself — often require a commitment to “we” ahead of “me.”

At the UW, we certainly have not escaped the challenges of the past decade. The great recession accelerated a decades-long shift in the business model for public higher education, reducing state support and placing the lion’s share of costs squarely on students and their parents. But as is our way at the UW, we have faced these issues head-on and with proven success.

For more than 150 years, we have been providing students from all walks of life one of the finest educations in the world. At the same time, we’ve developed programs to foster the economic diversity of our campus populations for generations to come. A third of UW undergraduates receive support through the Husky Promise, a program that guarantees that full tuition and standard fees will be covered by grant or scholarship support for eligible Washington state students. Thirty percent of our private endowment funds scholarships. We’ve built academic support programs to help all students be successful, including the 30 percent who are the first in their families to attend college. Our graduation rates are high, with more than 80 percent of students graduating within a six-year period.

We have proven and continue to prove that a public university can be both racehorse and workhorse: providing a world-class education while still being accessible to all.

The mission of higher education will continue to be debated, in political venues, in classrooms, in community centers, in films. There are important issues for all of us to address. But at the UW, we remain resolutely optimistic. Every day, thousands of young people pursue their dreams here — some would say the American dream — and accomplish extraordinary things. We are committed to remaining their gateway and guide — for the good of all of us.

Michael K Young signature
Michael K. Young

Your comments and engagement are welcome through UW Impact.

Celebrating Veterans Day with Richard Layton, the UW’s 2014 Distinguished Alumni Veteran

Each year, the University of Washington presents one graduate with the Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award, commending graduates who have made a positive impact through community service and civic engagement. This year’s recipient has dedicated his life to service — first through the military and later as a physician for the underserved and an educator in the medical field.

Richard Layton, M.D., ’54, ’58, was drafted into the U.S. Navy at age 18. With the nation still in the clutches of World War II, Dr. Layton soon found himself at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands, where atomic bombs were tested. After bombs were detonated, he was sent to assess the bombed-out ships — a job that exposed him to critically dangerous levels of radiation.

Photo of Richard Layton with military officers
Richard Layton (third from right) is the recipient of the 2014 Distinguished Alumni Veterans Award.

Returning to the United States in 1946, Dr. Layton started a new chapter at the University of Washington as a medical student, where he graduated at the top of his class. As a physician and an educator, Dr. Layton has impacted countless lives during the course of his career. He was one of the pioneering physicians in the University of Washington School of Medicine’s WWAMI program, which trains UW physicians in five states with a focus on rural and underserved areas.

Dr. Layton practiced for 19 years in Grandview, Washington, before becoming director of the family medicine residency program at Providence Hospital for the UW, a position he filled for 20 years.  Over the course of his career — during which he worked tirelessly on behalf of his patients and for regional and national medical organizations — Dr. Layton earned many prestigious honors. In 1986, he was Washington state’s family physician of the year.

Upon his retirement, he earned emeritus faculty status with the UW School of Medicine for his many years as a clinical professor. More recently, Dr. Layton received the alumni service award from the UW School of Medicine. And last year, Gov. Jay Inslee bestowed the Washington State Governor’s Recognition Award on Dr. Layton for his “selflessness and lifelong commitment to service.” In the spirit of continuing that service, the University’s physician assistant program selects a graduate each year to receive the Richard H. Layton Award for Commitment to Underserved Populations.

Congratulations to Dr. Layton, and thank you to all UW servicemen and servicewomen for your commitment to our country and our community.

Saluting our servicemen and servicewomen

At the University of Washington, we strive to remember our veterans not just during Veterans Appreciation Week, but year-round. Across our campuses, monuments honoring those who have served greet us: the Medal of Honor Memorial; the 58 sycamore trees lining Memorial Way, reminding us of the UW students and faculty who lost their lives during World War I in service to our country; and the central flagpole bearing the names of students, faculty and staff who never returned to the UW from the battlefields of World War II.

These tangible symbols remind us of the intangible values our United States veterans have worked — and valiantly fought — to uphold. Values including freedom, peace, opportunity and justice. They help us reflect on the meaning of courage, selflessness and determination.

But we know that monuments and our words of gratitude alone are not enough. Across the University, we are working to strengthen and expand programs to better support our veterans as they embark on the next phase of their journey.

There are more than 40 programs for veterans, active-duty military and their dependents across the UW’s three campuses.For instance, at UW Tacoma — which Victory Media designated as a military-friendly school for the fourth year in a row — the Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship program, or VIBE, is engaging veterans with entrepreneurial talent. The program recognizes veterans’ unique leadership and problem-solving skills and empowers them to pursue their own businesses.


Also at UW Tacoma, we’re responding to the growing demand from the public and private sectors for professionals who can deal with cyber threats. This year, the Milgard School of Business partnered with the UW Tacoma Institute of Technology to launch a new master’s degree in cybersecurity and leadership. It was developed as a direct response to the needs of the military community — and our nation.

At UW Bothell, a recently developed course is successfully helping veterans navigate the transition from military life to academic life.And the UW School of Law is working with the Northwest Justice Project to start a veterans law clinic to address legal needs in areas of veteran’s administration and mental health, housing, consumer issues and family law.

As students and teachers, faculty and staff, neighbors and friends, we are all enriched by our veteran and military community. And so it is of vital importance that we support veterans through research that will positively impact people’s lives and help us create a world of good. To give just one example, through projects funded by the National Institutes of Health, the UW School of Nursing is contributing to pain management research at Madigan Army Hospital at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Various UW organizations, including researchers in the UW School of Public Health, have created PEARLS, a national evidence-based treatment program for depression. While the program has focused primarily on senior populations, it is now expanding to treat older veterans in King County as well.

Through all of these collective efforts, we are proud to be ranked No. 2 in the nation in U.S. News & World Report’s listing of the Best Colleges for Veterans.

Yet, we are not complacent. We will continue to do more to support our veterans, active-military service members and their families through research as well as educational and employment opportunities. On behalf of the entire University, thank you to all Husky veterans for your service, leadership and commitment to our country and our communities.

Cost-benefit report on medical school expansion in Spokane

UW Regent Orin Smith and I were in Spokane today sharing the findings of a comprehensive, independent analysis of the costs and benefits of medical school expansion efforts in Spokane and Eastern Washington.

The report, conducted by Tripp Umbach, comes on the heels of a 2010 study — commissioned by Greater Spokane Incorporated — which found that rapidly expanding the existing UW-led medical program in Spokane into a four-year medical school would contribute to an estimated economic impact of $1.6 billion and 9,000 jobs over a 20-year period. The report released today reaffirms those findings. It also confirms that an expanded UW School of Medicine in Spokane is the most cost-effective use of taxpayer funds to grow the state’s physician workforce.

Growing the UW School of Medicine in Spokane has several distinct advantages. First, we are poised for rapid expansion now. This legislative session (starting in January) we will ask the Legislature for funding to double our medical school class size in Spokane. When fully enrolled, the school will have 320 students, with 80 graduating each year, nearly as large as our class size in Seattle.

Next, the UW has an established track record of creating medical residencies in Washington state, both as a medical provider and as a partner with healthcare organizations across the state. As the Tripp Umbach report notes, increasing the number of medical school graduates is only part of the equation. The highest predictor of where doctors will stay and practice is where they do their medical residencies. In order for graduates to get jobs in our state and practice in areas we need them most, we must have more residencies. The UW is working with the state Medical Association on a request for the next legislative session to expand residency programs in underserved areas of the state, especially in Eastern Washington.

Finally, the UW’s national leadership in research and commercialization will fuel economic development in Spokane. The faculty of the UW School of Medicine are the best in the country at competing for and attracting research dollars to support their work. The UW also leads the country in startups and innovation. UW faculty already participate in 40 joint research projects in Spokane — from behavioral health to diabetes research — and with an expanded UW School of Medicine, we will build on our existing collaborations and seek new opportunities in a city that is clearly entrepreneurial and ambitious.

There is still a lot of work to do. While our successful 40-year medical education partnership with Washington State University is ending, we are committed to expanded opportunities for growth and impact in Spokane. As we grow, we also look forward to a more visible and active presence in the community. We’re in the process of establishing a dedicated leadership team and cultivating new academic partnerships. And, as you may have heard, our bid to transform the city of Spokane Visitor Center into a UW headquarters for our community development efforts has been recommended to the City Council, and we are optimistic it will be approved next month.

It’s an exciting time for the University of Washington in Spokane. We owe a great debt of gratitude to the incredible Spokane medical community, business community and political leadership that have helped us achieve so much to date. We look forward to continuing our partnership with the community to help grow a vibrant, innovative economy in Spokane, and to ensure all Washington residents have access to the highest quality health care.

I invite you to read Tripp Umbach’s complete analysis online.

We’re very optimistic about our future here with you, together.

Michael K Young signature
Michael K. Young