UW Appoints First Female President

On Monday, October 13th Board of Regents Chair, Bill Ayer, sent an email to UW students announcing that Ana Mari Cauce would be replacing Michael Young as the permanent president of UW.

President Cauce has been a member of the UW faculty since 1986, when she was employed as an assistant professor of psychology. Her dedication, active involvement at UW, and initiative to take on increased amounts of responsibility resulted in Cauce serving as both provost and executive vice president, before becoming interim president on March 2nd, 2015. She replaced Michael Young, who served a three-and-a-half year tenure as UW president before applying for the same position at Texas Agricultural & Mechanical College of Texas.

“Deciding to be a candidate for the presidency of Texas A&M University was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make,” Young said, according to the UW website. “My time at the University of Washington without question has been the most rewarding of my professional career to date.”

Young’s choice to leave UW was unexpected. Ayer, speaking on behalf of the Board of Regents, explained his choice as a “surprise.” After having experienced various presidents with short tenures, UW wanted to focus on stability, making it one of the deciding factors in the process of finding the university’s next leader. Cauce demonstrated her stability at UW, having been a member of the faculty for over 30 years.

“I think Ana Mari exactly is the most logical choice for [president]. One of the things that I think is important for our university is some stability. We’ve had good leaders in the past, but they were short tenures,” says Pagano.

To fairly assess the pool of candidates considered for the position, the university appointed senior partner of Witt / Kieffer Search Firm, John Thornburgh, and a Search Advisory Team comprising of 31 members, including: ASUWT President, Sophie Nop, former UWT interim Chancellor, Kenyon Chan, and UWT’s Director of Institute of Global Engagement, Divya McMillin.

“We felt like we had more than enough representation. Of course you never have more than enough, but we felt like we were adequately well represented with the people on the committee,” Pagano says.

Thornburgh, one of the consultants, organized a search prospectus through interviewing UW students, faculty and staff, and engaging the community through open public forums. It outlined what the university was looking for in its next leader, as a whole, and the current state of the university at that time.

There were a total of 70 nominations and 58 applicants and prospects that were reviewed by the Search Committee. The committee classified 29 candidates as “high potential prospects” that included 17 sitting presidents/chancellors, 9 provosts, and three university nominees. The Board of Regents then got the opportunity to select the finalists, who were not disclosed to the public to preserve their confidentiality.

During her term as president, Cauce intends to focus on improving students’ experience; executing research and scholarships that have a global impact; upholding UW’s mission of preserving, advancing, and disseminating knowledge; and inspiring the university with a commitment to innovation.

The Ledger reached out to Cauce to get a taste of her vision for UWT, specifically. “We do not want to grow in a way that endangers our excellence. All three campuses are UW quality and must be UW quality,” Cauce said in an address Monday, October 12th. “Tacoma is an urban-serving campus and it will continue to grow.”

Illustration by Anna Fern

Illustration by Anna Fern

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