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From the Dean

Supporting our Graduate Students

Story by
Robert Stacey, Dean

Great universities do many things.  At the University of Washington, our research unlocks the mysteries of human experience and improves the lives of millions. We contribute to the health of our communities through the sciences, the arts, and every other field. And we educate tens of thousands of undergraduate and graduate students every year, whose lives are transformed by their UW experience. But of all the things we do, the importance of graduate education is the least well understood, even by our closest friends and supporters. 

Portrait of Dean Robert Stacey on campus

Graduate students are the glue that holds together the various elements of our mission. They are the critical piece that makes everything else we do possible. As teachers and teaching assistants, graduate students enable us to educate the tens of thousands of undergraduate students yearly. They mark exams and papers, supervise labs, lead discussion sections in our large lecture classes, and add depth and breadth to our upper-level undergraduate course offerings. As researchers, our graduate students participate in faculty-led research projects that range from advancing basic science to addressing societal challenges to furthering artistic innovation. They serve the state of Washington in myriad ways, from participating in community health projects to mounting traveling planetarium shows in K-12 schools. There is nothing the University of Washington does in which graduate students are not centrally important.

Graduate students are the glue that holds together the various elements of our mission.

The importance of graduate education extends also to the recruitment of faculty.  An essential ingredient in recruiting stellar faculty to the University of Washington is offering them the opportunity to teach outstanding graduate students. For all these reasons, it is essential to our mission as a great university that we be able to bring these outstanding students to campus and support them while they are here. 

Fellowships established by generous donors are a vital source of support for our masters and Ph.D students. Fellowships provide the critical margin of excellence that makes the University of Washington a great university and allows us to compete with other universities for the very best students. Recognizing the importance of such support, the provost has launched a University-wide PhD Fellowship Initiative to encourage new, competitively funded fellowships.

In this issue of Perspectives, you will meet two students whose graduate education at UW was made possible by such fellowships.  They are two among many impressive graduate students to whom we all owe so much.