|Dean Ana Mari Cauce. Photo by Jacob Lambert.|
From the Dean
“Dr. Cauce, Dr. Cauce,” a student called as she ran up to me from behind on Commencement Day.
It was a little before 8 a.m. and I was on my way to the Psychology Department’s breakfast/graduation ceremony. The night before, I’d spoken at the Spanish Department graduation ceremony and gotten home late (again). So, while I’ve always loved Commencement Day, I was dragging a bit. Then I heard a student calling my name, and—well, more about that later.
At times it’s felt like one hard, long, slog of a year. The College lopped more than ten million dollars from its budget. And looking toward next year, we fear the cutting isn’t over.
We’ve tried hard to shield Arts and Sciences students from the effects of the cuts. Due to the dedication of our faculty and staff, we’ve managed to maintain high quality standards even as the number of students in most classes has expanded. And although most departments are short staffed, they have found ways to provide their students with meaningful end-of-the-year ceremonies, even if it has meant providing homemade cookies or making midday runs to Costco for cold cuts and soft drinks.
Despite the challenges, there has been a lot to be proud of during the 2009-2010 academic year. It started with a bang when biologist Dee Boersma won the prestigious Heinz Award for her environmental work and poet Heather McHugh won a MacArthur “genius” award, both in the first week of the quarter. As the year progressed, alumnus Mike Posner won the National Medal of Science, awarded by the President. Chemist Michael Gelb was inducted into the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Artist-in-Residence Sherman Alexie won a PEN/Faulkner Award. Biologist Lynn Riddiford and Pat Kuhl, co-director of the Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences (I-LABS) were named members of the National Academy of Sciences. This year was also the first in which a UW student, mathematics/computer science major Will Johnson, won a prestigious Putnam Fellowship. And, as has become our custom, A&S was extremely well represented in the University’s teaching awards, which recognize teaching excellence in our faculty and graduate students.
Dean Ana Mari Cauce (center) chats with Spain’s King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofiá during the León dedication event.
We celebrated the opening of the MEG facility at the I-LABS, which will allow scientists to probe even more deeply into brain development. United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon visited campus as part of the Jackson School’s centennial celebration and revealed that he had applied to, and been rejected from, the UW. (We corrected that mistake by awarding him an honorary degree.) We even had a bit of a royalty week in May, when I met the King and Queen of Spain at the opening of our León Center on Tuesday (see story), and the Crown Princess of Sweden visited campus and met with Scandinavian Studies students on Friday (see story).
And, of course, there are our Dean’s Medalists, featured in this issue. The College’s Divisional Deans and I had lunch with the medalists the day before graduation and it was truly one of the year’s highlights. It was great to watch our humanities and natural sciences medalists in lively conversation about the authors they both admire and the books they’d both been reading. It was a microcosm of what Arts and Sciences is all about—an education with depth and breadth, that prepares students for a range of vocational options. I left lunch feeling sky high.
Yet, the very next morning, I was a little world weary, the weight of the year’s downsides squarely on my shoulders. So when I heard “Dr. Cauce,” it took me a minute to respond. My first impulse was to look around for my father. But before I could execute a full turn, the student was hugging me. “Thank you, thank you! It worked, I got it!” she exclaimed. Then she was gone, blending back into the gaggle of graduates, ubiquitous on campus this first truly sunny day in June.
I’m still not sure who she was, or what I had done to deserve the hug, but in that instant the lightness returned to my step, a smile to my face, and all was right with the world.
It has been a long year, but a good one.
Ana Mari Cauce
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences
Earl R. Carlson Professor of Psychology and Professor of American Ethnic Studies