Undergraduate Academic Affairs

May 13, 2024

UAA’s LeAnne Wiles receives Thorud Leadership Award

Kirsten Atik

We are delighted to congratulate LeAnne Wiles on being named one of two recipients for the Thorud Leadership Award, the highest award for leadership at the University of Washington! Wiles is the executive director of First Year Programs and Strategic Initiatives in UAA’s Student Academic Services.

Photo of LeAnne Wiles

Congratulations to UAA’s LeAnne Wiles on being named one of two recipients for the Thorud Leadership Award, the highest award for leadership at the UW.

Wiles began her UW career in First Year Programs in 2009, managing parent orientation, the First-year Interest Group program and other elements of First Year Programs. In the last 15 years, she has made an indelible mark on how new students are welcomed to campus and how they find a sense of belonging in their first year. To be effective in this work, Wiles and the First Year Programs team she leads reach out across campus, developing partnerships with academic and administrative units with the vision of creating a campus-wide welcome and culture of belonging for first-year students.

Wiles is the first to say she is not solely responsible for the success of this work. “I feel grateful and humbled by the recognition,” she shared. “My accomplishments result from collaboration with campus partners and colleagues in First Year Programs and Student Academic Services, who significantly contribute to our collective success.”

Research has shown that a student’s first-year experience is influential into whether or not they return for their second year. This matters because students who return for their second year are much more likely to persist through to graduation. Wiles has held this and other knowledge and insight into the first-year student experience as she and the team she leads modify and create programming in concert with campus partners to support student success in the crucial first year. The UW has a higher-than-average second-year return rate and a higher-than-average graduation rate. While these points-of-pride can be attributed to multiple factors in the undergraduate experience, the first-year student experience is undoubtedly a positive factor.

“LeAnne is a true collaborative leader,” says Ed Taylor, vice provost and dean of Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “She leads countless numbers of people with clarity, courage and integrity. She forms trails of trust that run throughout our campus community so that we ultimately find our way to one another.”

This leadership is also evidenced in the letters and statements of support for her nomination. In those, colleagues across campus cited Wiles’ capacities for innovation, inclusiveness, commitment, partnership, community-mindedness, collaboration, respect and more.

“LeAnne is a valued colleague because she listens and learns and will help you think about new ways to solve problems,” comments Michaelann Jundt, senior associate dean in Undergraduate Academic Affairs. “She makes connections between people and among ideas and brings energy and enthusiasm to every endeavor. We are thrilled she is being honored with the Thorud Leadership Award.”

Wiles will receive her award at the Awards for Excellence Ceremony on June 6, 3:30 p.m. in Meany Hall. A reception will follow the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public.