Office of the Provost

June 26, 2018

After a 40-year Husky Experience, on to new adventures

Jerry Baldasty

On most mornings, I bike to work. Even on rainy days, it’s good to be outside and get a bit of exercise on the way to the office. For the past six years, I’ve passed the Communications building – where I spent most of my career as a faculty member — and headed across Red Square to Gerberding Hall.

However, on Monday, July 2, for the first morning in a long time, I won’t be biking in to work. My last day as provost is June 30.

While I have mixed feelings about retirement, I’m looking forward to new adventures in the months and years ahead. No guilt on my part: I cannot imagine a better successor than our new provost, Mark Richards, who begins his job July 1.

The UW has been my academic home since I was 17 years old – the place where I met my mentor Bill Ames who introduced me to a career in academia (something I had never imagined, growing up in Spokane). I earned my bachelor’s degree and later my Ph.D. from the UW. It’s where I have spent my career as a faculty member, chair, dean, vice provost and provost. It’s also the place where I have made lifelong friends and colleagues.

There is much I am proud of – and all of it accomplished through teams of faculty, staff and students – enhancing the Husky Experience, launching the Husky 100, mentoring and cultivating future academic leaders for the UW, the series of reports highlighting the great work by UW faculty and staff.

As an administrator for 16 years, and particularly as provost for the last three, I’ve had to make some difficult decisions. As I have done so, I have always sought advice from others –  faculty, staff, Faculty Senate, the Provost Advisory Council of Students, among many others – on these issues, because effective leadership does not happen in vacuum. With every decision, I have tried to keep in mind our students, faculty and staff, and what is best for the institution.

I will miss much about the UW. I’ve always liked being in the middle of things, and that’s been both fascinating and challenging. I will miss some of that (especially the fascinating parts). I will especially miss the many colleagues with whom I’ve collaborated over the years. I’ve tried to thank many of you who have worked with me; but the number is great, and there hasn’t been time to reach out to everyone. So this is it: Thank you, all!

New adventures ahead! This autumn quarter, I am team teaching an undergraduate course on storytelling at the UW’s Leon Center in Spain. After that, who knows? Perhaps some volunteering, lots of recreational reading, cooking, and, of course, biking.

My parting advice is to look for the challenges, take on the tough work that needs to be addressed. But don’t do it alone. Ask others to join you.

My parting request is that you extend to our new provost the patience and support you have consistently given to me.


Thank you.