Take That Golden Shovel And... Do Even More

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Ten ways UW Tacoma is living up to the spirit of the 2018 Golden Shovel Award, presented to the campus by the Economic Development Board of Tacoma--Pierce County.

[Image above: 2018 Golden Shovel Award. Photo by Ingrid Barrentine, courtesy Economic Development Board.]

At its annual meeting on March 8, the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County presented the 2018 Golden Shovel Award to UW Tacoma.

According to the Board, the award recognizes “businesses, organizations or individuals that have made a significant contribution to the economic well-being of Tacoma-Pierce County.”

The award citation recognizing UW Tacoma says that our “role in downtown Tacoma’s physical transformation to a thriving urban hub is beyond compare. The business and civic communities in the South Sound have embraced UW Tacoma from the very beginning and the doors between campus and the community remain wide open. The Milgard School of Business, the Institute of Technology, and the Urban Studies program are widely known. The recently launched Dressel Scholars program is the university’s latest innovative program that will serve this community for generations.”

In a recent statement, UW Tacoma Chancellor Mark A. Pagano reflected on the influence of the campus. “The impact of what we are doing here on our 46 acres in downtown Tacoma goes way beyond a set of geographic boundaries,” he said. “We are changing society because we are providing access to a high-quality education, and because we are bringing together the people who are equipped to make a difference. Let us take that golden shovel we just earned and use it to do even more.”

Do Even More

In the spirit of that last exhortation to do even more, we present below a few “snapshots” of some recent or upcoming developments that will influence the development of UW Tacoma and the region.

New Academic Building
In its 2018 session, the Washington state legislature allocated $500,000 to UW Tacoma to develop the predesign study for a new academic building. To be located on a site adjacent to the Court 17 apartments and the Pinkerton building, the new facility will house high-demand degree programs such as computer engineering, our new electrical engineering program, and business analytics.

Also in 2018, the legislature allocated $200,000 to UW Tacoma for expansion of legal education. Faculty will work with the South Sound legal community to develop courses and activities of interest to students who desire a law-related career, and to help close the “justice gap” in unmet civil legal needs of low-income people.

The Simon Family Endowment has been established at UW Tacoma to support adults diagnosed with autism or other intellectual and developmental disabilities. A Master of Social Work Practicum Program will ensure an expanding group of professionals in the South Sound and beyond dedicated to lifelong care and advocacy for these adults. The Autism Coalition of Tacoma (ACT) will activate a network of partner agencies to identify gaps in services and expand access to systems of support.

Emergency Aid Lab
With funding from the Gates Foundation, the international consulting firm Reos Partners is working with UW Tacoma and four other U.S. post-secondary institutions to build student-focused sustainable systems of emergency support. This project, the Emergency Aid Lab, will enable students to stay in school through graduation by helping them bridge unexpected financial needs with emergency financial aid and other forms of critical assistance.

Dressel Scholars
Funded by a lead gift from the family of Melanie Jan LaPlant Dressel, the Dressel Scholars program will provide scholarships, mentorships and co-curricular opportunities designed to develop leadership potential in students who have demonstrated an academic and service mindset but who may lack opportunities to develop as community leaders.

Cross-Laminated Timber
A new building technology is emerging in the U.S., called Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT). Using CLT in building construction advances environmental sustainability and creates a new kind of demand for Washington’s forest-products industry. The technology can use wood previously considered waste, such as that generated through forest-fire reduction efforts. By embracing CLT and other mass-timber technologies for future building projects, UW Tacoma will help local developers, contractors and regulators develop CLT standards and expertise. Future building on the campus will showcase CLT as an innovation while creating structures that express in new form the same learning-rich environment as the nearby restored brick-and-timber warehouses.

Catalyzing Private Investment
The continued growth of UW Tacoma has prompted an upsurge of private investment in the blocks immediately surrounding the campus. Here are some details about six private projects, representing $400 million in investment, now or soon to be underway.

Convention Center Hotel
300-room hotel, 19,000 sq. ft. function space, 10,000 sq. ft. retail
Block bounded by Commerce St., S. 17th St., Court C $85 million
(Phase two includes $65 million residential tower)
KOZ micro-apartments
104 studio units, 1,400 sq.ft. retail
1554 Market St. $12.2 million
Napoleon Apartments
135 units, ground-floor retail
1515 Tacoma Ave. S. $30 million
21st & Yakima Apartments
197 units
1929 Yakima Ave. $15 million
Tacoma Town Center
In two phases: 240,000 sq. ft. retail; 50,000 sq. ft. office; 420 units residential
Block bounded by S. 21st St., Jefferson Ave., S. 23rd St., Tacoma Ave S. $125 million
Brewery Blocks
200 residential units; 75,000 sq. ft. office; 50,000 sq. ft. retail
2120 Commerce Street $60 million

Tacoma Whole Child Initiative
A ten-year partnership with Tacoma Public Schools, the Tacoma Whole Child Initiative, now in its fifth year, is an “ambitious, cooperative, communitywide plan to bring social-emotional learning, student engagement strategies, and an emphasis on supportive relationships to every school,” according to Education Week. Support from the Wallace Foundation is expanding TWCI into places students go for learning when they’re not in school, such as community centers and sports.

South Sound Alliance
The South Sound Alliance brings together the leadership of cities and towns in Pierce and South King Counties. Joined by public and private organizations, the council pursues data-driven collaborative strategies to promote healthy communities, an improved environment and an innovative and thriving economy. Recently, Dr. Ali Modarres, director of UW Tacoma’s Urban Studies Program, was named the 2018 Community Champion by the growth-management advocacy organization Futurewise for his role in founding and leading the South Sound Alliance.

Higher Education in Federal Way
A collaboration of the City of Federal Way, Federal Way Public Schools, Highline Community College and UW Tacoma will bring a center for higher education to Washington’s ninth largest city. With funding from the Washington state legislature, courses will be offered at a site still to be selected in downtown Federal Way, and using the latest distance-learning technology.

Written by: 
John Burkhardt / March 16, 2018
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu