Undergraduate Academic Affairs

September 25, 2019

Welcome to the 2019 academic year

Ed Taylor

Portrait of Ed Taylor

Welcome to the start of another year in which UAA programs come together to advance and deepen undergraduate learning at the UW. This year is a special year for UAA: We are celebrating the 20th anniversary of Mary Gates Hall.

Twenty years ago, the building re-opened, transformed from the old physics hall into a space designated for and dedicated to the academic needs of undergraduates. One could argue that, with tens of thousands of undergraduates, the entire campus is geared toward undergrads. But place matters. While the education of undergraduates happens in classrooms and other spaces across campus, and critical and inspiring work that furthers the undergraduate experience takes place across campus, having a place specifically designated to care for and steward that experience writ large is as significant today as it was 20 years ago.

There is a foundational goodness to public research universities and their dedication to deepening and advancing knowledge for the public good. Our role is to bring that focus, energy and inspiration to the undergraduate academic experience. Not just any undergraduate academic experience, the experience that undergraduates have here, at the University of Washington. This is a special place, a place that matters.

It’s a place that matters to the students who come from across the city, region, state, country and world. This summer, I met entering students from Spokane and was again reminded of the power of holding community when we get stuck. I met a student in front of Suzzallo whose Kermit the Frog backpack and Peppa Pig lunch box stood out. I wanted to know why he chose elementary school gear for the UW. Turns out he’s a veteran and starting school here, the same year his daughter is starting school. She picked out their backpacks and lunchboxes. We started talking about our favorite children’s books. One of mine is Maurice Sendak’s “Where the Wild Things Are.” I love the joy of dancing with the wild things, the making one’s way and ultimate homecoming in that story.

Throughout the year and coming years, these students will come through Mary Gates Hall to connect with the myriad programs here and learn how they can make the most of their time at the UW.

“I hope you learn to write like you,” wrote the late writing teacher, poet and UW alumnus Richard Hugo in his book about writing called “The Triggering Town.” As we help students discover the opportunities here that will have a lasting impact into their futures, we are helping them learn to write their own story, their own poem, and how to tell it in their own way.

This building, dedicated to being a visual and important physical representation of the University’s commitment to undergraduates, is so appropriately named after Mary Gates. During her time as a regent, she is credited as being the regent most interested in undergraduates and their experiences here. As a result of their work here at the UW, students’ lives should be different, forever changed in a way that it can only be changed at this institution.

Welcome to fall. Let the wild rumpus start.


Ed Taylor's Signature




Ed Taylor

Vice Provost and Dean
Undergraduate Academic Affairs

College of Education