Undergraduate Academic Affairs

October 1, 2020

Welcome to the 2020-21 academic year

Ed Taylor

Photo of Ed Taylor

Welcome to the new academic year! The summer of 2020 was eventful wherever in the world you live. I hope that you and your families are healthy and that you have been able to find new ways to appreciate and care for one another.

I am reminded that during challenging times, the University of Washington, our community, our students, faculty and staff work together to make our campus, our community — and indeed our world — better. These are times when the University is called on to rise to the challenge.

Our everyday, in-person interactions have, on one hand, been limited: We engage with each other remotely, via online modalities in the interest of keeping everyone safe and healthy. Yet, we are open, and our imaginations for new ways of connecting and our care to show the many ways our students belong to this community are boundless. We are fortunate that our faculty are skilled and knowledgeable educators, that our staff are innovative and devoted. They have been creative and thoughtful in their responses to students, centering compassion, understanding and their students’ humanity.

Being distant during the pandemic has been hard. There are many things I miss — one of them is having a lived sense of how vibrant our campus community and classrooms are. Passing each other on campus, in our halls or in our U District neighborhood is invaluable to our learning and connection. And yet, we will value our time together in virtual learning modalities, we will continue to find creative ways to convene and continue to appreciate the kindness, generosity, good humor and care expressed by our faculty, staff and students.

As talented as our faculty and staff are, we know that students will play the largest role in their development into engaged citizens of our world. To our students, I encourage you to make efforts to connect, find your passion. Meet teachers, mentors, advisers and leaders who will challenge you. We will embark on this journey together and emerge ready to change the world.

As we move forward and continue to traverse the uncertainties that certainly are ahead of us, I am hopeful we will all remember to put the health and well-being of ourselves and our families first. Our inter-connected and inter-dependent community is filled with people who care, and I want to remind everyone to find moments of joy and gratitude in each day.

For me, I find joy in and am grateful for the contributions each of you make to our community. For working parents taking on the additional role of being a teaching assistant for your children in their own remote learning, I am grateful for the care you are taking with this next generation. I find joy in seeing our students show their devotion to democracy and register their fellow students to vote. I see our faculty renew their commitment to teaching and restructure classes for the online learning environment and I am inspired. And when students commit themselves to the discipline of discovery and expand their understanding of the world, we all can find a measure of joy. These are a few kinds of moments in which bridges are being built and strengthened by the contributions being made to our community.

This year, look after your fellow students, your University community, your family and the people you love. Let us stay connected to each other and care for one another.