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From the Dean

Cause for Celebration

Story by
Dean Robert Stacey

For all the talk about graduations as beginnings (and hence, as “commencements”), I find that graduations inspire stock-taking.  Perhaps this is because, as a historian, I find it hard to think about where we are going without first assessing where we are and have been.  But perhaps too it is because graduations are moments of celebration, and there has been a lot to celebrate over the past year in the College of Arts and Sciences.

Portrait of Dean Robert Stacey on campus

I start this letter with our students, because everything we do in Arts and Sciences we do with our students’ interests foremost in our minds.  In this issue of Perspectives you will read about five extraordinary students whose breadth of interests and passionate commitments to the arts, humanities, natural and social sciences epitomize the ideals of a liberal arts education. In their UW careers, all have received support from fellowships and scholarships established through the generosity of our friends and alumni. As such, they represent thousands more of our students who have been able to pursue their dreams because generous donors made it possible for them to do so.  We are all in your debt. I conclude my eighth year as Dean..., I look forward with real optimism to the year ahead.

Donor gifts also helped make possible the September 2018 opening of the new Life Sciences Building (LSB), which is enabling us to serve thousands of students every year who study biology, neuroscience, and other related fields and go on to careers in health care, research, and teaching. The opening of LSB is now permitting us to renovate Kincaid Hall to serve the many students and faculty who make our Psychology Department one of the best in the country. This October, we will also open the New Burke Museum, a transformative building about which we will have much more to say in a future issue of Perspectives.

Scholarships and new buildings are two among many tangible and immediate benefits to the College as a result of the University of Washington capital campaign, which is now nearing a successful close scheduled for June 2020. We are grateful also to this year’s Legislature.  By fully funding the State Need Grant (which will now be known as the Washington College Grant), the Legislature created the most generous funding package in the country to assist Washington State students seeking to continue their education beyond high school. The Legislature also made important targeted investments in health care and STEM education. None of this would have been possible without the efforts of thousands of our alumni who contacted their legislators to express support for these measures. Also important was the support of Washington businesses, led by our friends at Microsoft and Amazon, whose willingness to endorse higher taxes on their businesses provided the funding needed to make these important priorities a reality.

As always, there is more to do. The upcoming year will see important discussions about how the University allocates its funding, and how we track that funding as it flows through our financial systems. I also anticipate lively debates about how we can serve our students better as they traverse their paths from admissions to graduation and then into the world. No great university is ever satisfied. But we have set a good course this year, and as I conclude my eighth year as Dean and my thirty-first year as a UW faculty member, I look forward with real optimism to the year ahead.