Whether you are new or returning, you are a welcome presence on our vibrant 46-acre campus woven right into the fabric of beautiful downtown Tacoma. Our campus is at the heart of many exciting new developments in our growing and beloved city. You are each part of something historic and meaningful: the largest entering class in our 28-year history. This represents the continued growth of one of the nation’s leading urban-serving universities and an institution committed to expanding equitable access to higher education.
Although we won’t know the exact numbers until the official count on the 10th day of the quarter, we expect to be welcoming almost 5,400 students this autumn. This will represent a 4% growth from the 5,185 students that enrolled in autumn of last year. And we are also welcoming more than 20 outstanding new faculty into the academic units of our institution.
Strategic, Sustainable Growth
Our growth, though, is not just about increases in numbers. We are growing strategically and in a sustainable manner in response to demand from our surrounding community. We are growing because more and more people are seeing the connection between higher education and leading a more economically viable life and satisfying career. Last year, the entire UW Tacoma leadership team visited Georgia State University in Atlanta, a nationally-recognized exemplar with a mission very similar to our own. While on this benchmarking visit, we were inspired with what is possible for us in many areas of what they do well, and we were just as pleased to see that we ourselves are setting the pace for our peers with our focus on student success.
Championing Public Scholarship
If you are a faculty member, you will have the opportunity to engage this year in continuing discussion about how our campus champions public scholarship and enhances support for research and service. Our Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Jill Purdy, in conjunction with the Deans, Directors, and Faculty Assembly will be working to provide increased clarity on how our campus will support and resource this work.
If you are a student, you will benefit from the enhancements and services being put into place by our Vice Chancellor for Student and Enrollment Services, Mentha Hynes-Wilson and her team. Many of these services and opportunities are being showcased during New Student Orientation and at the Student Involvement Fair on Thursday, September 27.
Center for Equity & Inclusion
If you are a student, faculty or staff member, you will benefit from the significant new investments in our Center for Equity & Inclusion. Our new Assistant Chancellor for Equity & Inclusion, James McShay, will be convening a campus meeting in mid-October to provide a progress update on efforts made this past summer to relocate and expand the physical space of CEI, launch national searches for three staff positions, and enhance educational programming and community advocacy initiatives that promote diversity, equity and inclusion at UW Tacoma.
In the coming year, our campus will be submitting an application to receive the Carnegie Foundation Classification for Community Engagement, a widely-watched barometer of an institution’s commitment to community engagement. These efforts are being led by the Community Engagement Council under the leadership of our new Assistant Chancellor for Community Engagement, Dr. Ali Modarres and the two Carnegie Committee co-chairs, Dr. Linda Ishem and Lisa Isozaki.
Charting Our Course
Likewise, Joe Lawless, Assistant Chancellor for Strategy and Assessment, will continue to lead the campus forward in executing Charting our Course, our strategic plan, as we enter our third year of implementation. Stay tuned for a year-two report, available later this fall.
As the pace of the season picks up — classes, studying, family, work, current events, and maybe even some Husky Football — I urge you to keep in mind the importance of making connections. You can start by joining me at our annual Convocation tomorrow, Wednesday, September 26, 12:30 p.m. at the intersection of the Prairie Line Trail and the Grand Staircase. I hope to see you there.