UW Faculty Auxiliary

By Carol Hol

facultyauxiliarylogoThe University of Washington Faculty Auxiliary is an organization for university faculty members, administrative officers and their spouses, partners and friends. The Auxiliary provides a rich variety of social and cultural opportunities, assists newcomers in finding temporary housing and raises money for undergraduate scholarships.

The first six decades

photo of women, 1909

Salem Day reception, Alaska Yukon Pacific Exposition, Seattle, Washington, 1909

The Auxiliary was organized in the spring of 1908 as the Faculty Women’s Club. Participants were both female faculty and faculty wives. In 1916 the group became the Faculty Wives Club and remained so until 1976, when the name, the University of Washington Faculty Auxiliary, was adopted in order to include faculty spouses of both genders.

The first meetings were held in the homes of members. In 1909 these were moved to the official and on-campus president’s house, a structure which previously had been the “New York State Building” at the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition. (In 1926 this building became home to the School of Music; in 1932 the UW president took up residence in Washington Park.) It was the UW president’s wife who, during the early years, served as president of the Faculty Wives Club.

In 1916 the ladies were granted the use of the Faculty Men’s Club Hoo Hoo House as venue for their meetings and Study Group gatherings. When a new addition was added to this building in 1926, the Faculty Wives provided a financial contribution toward its “furnishings,” as did also the Clubs of the Faculty Men and Faculty Women. The meetings were moved to the Student Union Building in 1952 until the completion in 1960 of a new faculty center which, since, has been home to many of the organization’s general meetings and other events. A considerable donation was provided by the Faculty Wives also toward this very attractive accommodation which was renamed the University of Washington Club in 2005.

In the 1920s and ’30s, as the organization grew, it began to diversify its programs and activities. When its membership was about to reach 250, an adjunct Newcomers Club was formed in 1929 in order to “shepherd the new, mostly young matrons” more effectively into the UW family during their first two years. The Newcomers Club functioned under its own officers and maintained its own Activity Groups. In addition to inviting faculty speakers to their meetings, these clubs enjoyed such activities as book review, play production, bridge, debates on current topics and garden planning. These study or activity groups were suspended during the war years (both WWI and II) when the members opted to contribute their efforts to the preparation of materials much needed by the Red Cross.

The Division of Health Sciences was established in 1946 and a separate organization of the wives of the UW School of Medicine faculty was formed in 1949. Cooperation between the two women’s groups included also the privilege of dual membership.

During these many decades of expansion and social change, the aim of the organization has remained the promotion of service to and sociability throughout the university community. In the early days, Christmas gifts were prepared and given to the Theodora Home (orphanage) and the university infirmary. After World War II, the enrollment of foreign students increased and in 1952 in close association with the Foundation for International Understanding Through Students (FIUTS, estab. 1948), the Auxiliary began making annual contributions to various foreign student aid funds.

In 1957 the organization initiated a scholarship fund and in 1958-59 began the tradition of awarding annually at least one full-tuition scholarship to a student at the university. Funds for the service and scholarship activities were collected by numerous and various means, including bridge parties, international nights featuring foreign cuisine and entertainment, faculty follies spotlighting faculty “talent,” and the evening dessert auctions and theater parties.

Active Faculty Wives membership peaked well above 600 in the 1960s; the spring luncheon attendance was over 400. In the mid-’60s, the Faculty Wives and Newcomers Club combined their separate study and activity groups to form the interest group program through which all could meet to share similar interests and talents.

The ’70s and ’80s

Faculty Wives continued to recognize certain needs of the campus community and established several programs and services to meet these needs. A research and action group was set up in the early ’70s to study and lend support to the improvement of retirement provisions, health insurance and state legislative issues affecting the University. This same group played a significant role in creating the University of Washington Retirement Association in February of 1975. The original constitution of this new organization was based on that of the Faculty Wives Club; the members of the two groups have maintained a close and supportive relationship ever since.

The organization continued its support of foreign students at the university through its benefit fund for FIUTS and with donations collected at the December “Silver” (since 1994 “Holiday”) Tea. In 1971 and in a combined effort, FIUTS and the Faculty Wives Club compiled and published the first edition of the Newcomers Booklet that was created especially for new arrivals to the university. Even after the affiliated Newcomers Club merged in 1975 with the Faculty Wives, many of the activities continued to be planned around the welcoming and orientation of the spouses of and new and visiting faculty. The club (renamed in 1976 as UW Faculty Auxiliary) prepared the second edition in 1980 and revised this newcomer’s aid at regular intervals up through 1996.

Since its establishment in 1985, the Visiting Faculty Housing Service has been particularly valuable to new and visiting faculty, staff and visiting scholars requiring temporary housing. Run by volunteers, this office helps newcomers find appropriate temporary housing. Landlords’ donations to VFHS have contributed substantially to the coffers of the Faculty Auxiliary Scholarship Fund.

The dinner-lecture series, a monthly evening event at the Faculty Center (UW Club), has been a popular addition to Auxiliary endeavors. The series was born in 1988 with the underlying idea of combining occasions for socializing with matters of a more intellectual nature. Furthermore, an evening event was more readily accessible for working members and working spouses.

The ’90s

Enterprising members considered new ideas for fund-raising, and in 1990 the Auxiliary compiled, published and successfully marketed a cookbook called Cooking with all Your Faculties. A second project undertook the annual sale of the Entertainment Coupon Book. The cookbooks have been sold, while sales of the latter continue to provide for the scholarship fund.

The interest groups, are a focal point for a good number of active Faculty Auxiliary members. The seasonal UWFA social events, the general meetings with speakers or cultural programs and the popular evening dinner/lectures continue to be integral Auxiliary activities. These occasions provide opportunities for members, their partners and friends to meet people from other areas of the university community. A special holiday dinner in December is particularly enjoyed by families.

The university has been and continues to be a valuable source of many of the speakers who present programs covering a wide variety of current, historical, scientific and informative topics for thought and discussion. Speakers as well as forums from outside the university have also been invited to provide information relevant to larger community projects and issues. The closure of the Navy’s Sand Point facility and the eventual distribution of the subsequently available prime property, the Seattle Commons issue and Where Town Meets Gown: Visions for the Future of the University District were particularly relevant topics in the mid-nineties.

The service capabilities of the Visiting Faculty Housing Office in providing assistance to university newcomers were greatly enhanced in 1995 with the arrival of Internet technology. Soon thereafter the VFHS and the UWFA undertook their initial website appearance. The Auxiliary continues to serve the university through its effort to reach out to and to welcome newcomers to the UW community.

Very high priority continues to be given by the Faculty Auxiliary to the provision of annual undergraduate scholarship awards. These scholarships are funded through member donations and other “gifts” to the Auxiliary, through special FA projects and, especially, through the efforts of the volunteers at the Visiting Faculty Housing Service. In addition to a number of donations to various campus groups, the UWFA has awarded, since 1958, more than 95 full-tuition scholarships. Since the mid-eighties there has been provision for at least three scholarships annually. The Faculty Auxiliary was particularly proud to award, for 1995-1996, six full-tuition scholarships to very deserving students. Due to an initiative of the Scholarship Committee of 1997, the award events, themselves, have been particularly noteworthy. The recipients together with their respective department chairs as well as a guest speaker have been invited to join Auxiliary members at the Scholarship Awards evening. These occasions with the warm and enthusiastic presentations by appreciative faculty members, students and speakers have been exceptional.

Many university faculty and administrative staff, throughout the years, have been both supportive and contributing participants in many Auxiliary undertakings, including, e.g., bridge groups, dining out groups, and such fund raisers as Faculty Follies and Theater Parties. As of 1997, they have been welcomed to Auxiliary membership.

The 21st centuryUWFA-7

In its first 50 years of scholarship awards, from 1958 through 2008, the Auxiliary awarded 116  full-tuition scholarships to students of the University of Washington.

The challenges of the Faculty Auxiliary today are found in its ongoing efforts to meet the interests and needs of its membership and to maintain and develop the quality of activities and services it has provided in the past to the greater University community. In the Auxiliary’s Centennial year 2008 it is with great respect and pride that the current members of the UWFA look back in admiration of those members of 100 years ago, and of the many who succeeded them. Their initiatives, determination and contributions have paved the Auxiliary’s path from the nascent days of the University of Washington campus forward to the present.

The years 2009 to 2021 brought quite a bit of change to the UWFA starting with our Dinner lectures at the UW Club in 2015. Our members told us in a poll that they did not want to drive at night anymore and so we created the Luncheon Lectures instead, with great success.

In order to maintain UWFA memberships and increase participation, a long-range planning committee met in 2016 and with input from the membership were able raise our visibility among the UW community. As part of that effort we established the new Board position of Webmaster and created the UWFA Website under the UW umbrella site: https://www.washington.edu/uwfa/.

To assist in fundraising for our scholarship fund, we created several new fundraising venues, such as donation cards, and knitting hats and selling them at outside locations. We now have a fund drive at the beginning of every new fiscal year.

In 2019, we celebrated our 111th UWFA anniversary at the Annual Meeting at the UW Club. We celebrated with a skit, a digital photo-history, and UW Community testimony.

In early 2020, the terrible COVID-19 virus pandemic hit and caused us to cancel all in-person meetings for over a year. We learned to work with Zoom and have virtual meetings. We had our first mail-in Business meeting and elected a new board via e-mail (for those without e-mail, with postal mail).

Our Luncheon lectures also moved to Zoom, and we managed to put the videos on the website.

The UW Club, then under General Manager John Risdon, closed its door for good in the Spring of 2020; with that, we have lost our venue for most UWFA meetings. John helped us move out our silver and porcelain treasures that had been stored at the club.

The VFHS ended 36 years of service in 2021. After the University closed all its buildings due to Covid in 2020, the volunteers in the housing office moved to an online only service with volunteers taking turns managing the service remotely. This continued until October 2021 when the service closed permanently. Continuing concern over Covid, decreasing use of the service, and a dwindling number of volunteers contributed to this decision. For 36 years the VFHS supported scholarships for students while assisting hundreds of visiting scholars and faculty to find temporary housing.

We are proud to say that despite all the adversities, our membership is holding steady at 250+.