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Undergraduate Academic Affairs
University of Washington

Vice Provost and Dean Ed Taylor

Jan 5, 2009

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

In 2008, 5,500 students joined another 22,000 to make up the University of Washington undergraduate population. UW students are first-generation students from Omak, fourth-generation students from Seattle, engineering students from Taiwan, athletes from Los Angeles. Our students come from around the state, country, and world and each day they remind me of our charge and commitment to them.

Discovery

A University of Washington undergraduate education is all about inquiry and discovery—this is what makes us distinct. We are inspired by research, scholarship, and a methodology that drives us to understand. By generating new knowledge, we strive to deal with a larger set of world problems and questions that are relevant to our neighborhoods, cities, states, and world.

Engagement

For many undergraduates, the 2008 presidential election was the first in which they voted. This simple but profound act of civic duty is a springboard to being an engaged and educated citizen, ready to contribute to the greater good. Undergraduates here also connect with other knowledge-generators, community leaders, and scholars, bringing their role as citizens into ever-sharper focus.

Commitment

Being a University of Washington undergraduate means being committed to solving world-class problems—the struggle to end poverty, the protection of eco-systems, the construction and design of 21st century buildings, and understanding time-honored moral problems and issues. In addition, our students are witnessing economic challenges unlike any others in recent history. For many, sustainability, preservation, compassion for others, and compassion for our environment go hand in hand.

Reflection

It is reasonable to expect all of our students to ask, “What am I to do I with what I’ve learned?” Earning a degree is, in part, preparation for a career—we need engineers, teachers, doctors, activists, and artists. It also means empowering our students toward continued reflection on what it is to have a set of skills and what it means to apply those skills in thoughtful ways. This education ought to be transformative and it ought to be life-long.

Undergraduate Academic Affairs guides undergraduates into the UW tradition of inquiry, creating and spotlighting pathways for students to engage in the University’s spirit of discovery, realize the fullness of their talents, and locate their place in the world.

UAA is designed to drive the University’s undergraduate mission with programs and initiatives that serve as connective tissue for the undergraduate experience. We ensure undergraduates can walk into state-of-the-art classrooms enabled by teaching and learning technology that recognize multiple types of learners. We help students move into community-based experiences that allow them to think about world problems in a variety of ways, accessing the people and organizations that are addressing big issues. We facilitate access to inspiring world-class faculty and world figures.

Ultimately, though, the purpose of a University of Washington education isn’t to come to the University of Washington. The University of Washington is a catalyst for students to do something much bigger, to go somewhere and do something significant, to be a part of the world and to invite the world to be a part of them.

It is our passion and privilege to help create and facilitate this meaningful journey.

Sincerely,
Ed Taylor
Vice Provost & Dean

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