Undergraduate Academic Affairs

September 28, 2022

This autumn, let us begin again

Ed Taylor

It’s the beginning of another academic year. The leaves on the iconic cherry trees in the Quad are turning red, orange, gold. We often focus on these trees in the spring — and with good reason, the blossoms are spectacular and represent a kind of joyful renewal — but autumn and the start of classes brings its own beauty and renewal through this specific time and place.

The leaves change together, just as our students transform together through a common experience of learning at this point in time and at this public institution. The turning of the leaves, a new school year, new students coming to campus: It is hopeful and gives us all an opportunity to begin again.

In Undergraduate Academic Affairs, we create opportunities and programs that enable students to connect to, deepen and expand their undergraduate academic experiences. As a result, students are able to be fully present and be the lead protagonists in their own educational journeys.

As we all begin this new academic year, full of possibility and hope, I think of James Baldwin, who wrote, “The world is before you and you need not take it or leave it as it was when you came in.”

Many students in the UW’s history did not leave the UW as it was when they entered. They gathered, learned, organized and changed the way this very University operates and has made us a better institution. We are better today because of the people who have come through here.

The people make the institution, and students develop capacities for leadership, community engagement and scholarship that make it so they are not just at the UW, but are able to be the UW.

Emily Dickenson wrote, “Hope is the thing with feathers / That perches in the soul, / And sings the tune without the words, / And never stops at all …”

With all the challenges our local and global communities face, when I meet students, I am filled with hope anew. The UW provides students with both common academic experiences and vast opportunities to choose and create their own academic adventures. Hope perches in our souls and sings no matter what.

This class of more than 7,200 entering students is filled with new Huskies, parents, families, mentors and supporters who are here because they’ve been hopeful.

My hope for all our students is that, by finding a sense of belonging at the UW, they develop the habits of heart, grow their intellectual capacity and discover their own drive to create the world anew.