University of Washington

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The University of Washington, founded in 1861, is a major public research university in the Seattle metropolitan area. Also known as Washington or UW (pronounced U Dub) and locally as The U, it is the largest university in the Pacific Northwest and one of the oldest public institutions of higher education on the West Coast of the United States. The university is made up of three campuses with its flagship campus in Seattle's University District, and upper division campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. The University of Washington has been coined as one of the "Public Ivies" - a public university that provides an "ivy league" collegiate experience.

University of Washington

UW Seal

MottoLux sit
Established November 4, 1861
School type Public
President Mark Emmert
Location Seattle, WA, USA
Enrollment 30,888 undergraduate,
11,820 graduate
Faculty 3,553
Endowment US$1.33 billion
Campus Urban, 693 acres (2.8 km²)
Sports teams Huskies


The UW is well known for its graduate programs. The UW Libraries are among the largest academic libraries in the United States with holdings of more than six million volumes.

In 2004 UW was second (to Johns Hopkins University) in the United States in federal research funding and has an annual research budget of US$1 billion dollars. In the 2004 Top American Research Universities report from the University of Florida, UW ranked 11th overall and third among public institutions. Additionally, UW ranked as the 17th best university in the world in the annual Academic Ranking of World Universities. Many of UW's programs are ranked in the top ten by the U.S. News and World Report college rankings including #1 rankings for both the medical school - primary care and nursing school. Overall, the faculty is ranked fourth among public institutions with National Academy members and fifth in national faculty awards.


The city of Seattle, Washington was one of several settlements in the mid to late 19th century vying for primacy in the newly formed Washington Territory. In 1854, territorial governor Isaac Stevens recommended the establishment of a university in Washington. Several prominent Seattle-area residents, chief among them Methodist preacher Daniel Bagley, saw the siting of this University as a chance to add to the city's prestige. They were able to convince early founder of Seattle and a member of the territorial legislature Arthur A. Denny of the importance of Seattle winning the school. The legislature initially chartered two universities, one in Seattle and one in Lewis County, but later repealed its decision in favor of a single university in Lewis County, provided locally donated land could be found. When no site emerged, the legislature, encouraged by Denny, relocated the university to Seattle in 1858.

In 1861, scouting began for an appropriate 10 acre (40,000 m²) site in Seattle to serve as the campus for a new university. Denny, along with fellow pioneers Edward Lander and Charlie Terry, donated a site on "Denny's Knoll" in what is today downtown Seattle. This tract was bounded by what are now 4th and 6th Avenues on the east and west and Union and Seneca Streets on the north and south.

File:Territorial University of Washington - c1870.jpg
The original University building on Denny's Knoll, c1870

The UW opened officially on November 4, 1861, as the Territorial University of Washington. The following year, the legislature passed articles formally incorporating the University and establishing a Board of Regents. The school struggled initially, closing three times: in 1863 for lack of students, and again in 1867 and 1876 due to shortage of funds. But by the time Washington entered the Union in 1889, both Seattle and the University had grown substantially. Enrollment had increased from an initial 30 students to near 300, and the relative isolation of the campus had given way to encroaching development. A special legislative committee headed by UW graduate Edmond Meany was created for the purpose of finding a new campus better able to serve the growing student population. The committee selected a site on Union Bay northeast of downtown, and the legislature appropriated funds for its purchase and subsequent construction.

The University relocated from downtown to the new campus in 1895, moving into the newly built Denny Hall. The regents tried and failed to sell the old campus, and eventually settled on leasing the area. The University still owns what is now called the Metropolitan Tract. In the heart of the city, it is among the most valuable pieces of real estate in Seattle and generates millions of dollars in revenue annually.

Organizers of the 1909 Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition eyed the still largely undeveloped campus as a prime setting for their world's fair. They came to an agreement with the Board of Regents that allowed them to use the campus grounds for the exposition. In exchange, the University would be able to take advantage of the development of the campus for the fair after its conclusion. This included a detailed site plan and several buildings. The plan for the A-Y-P Exposition prepared by John C. Olmsted was later incorporated into the overall campus master plan and permanently affected the layout of the campus.

Both World Wars brought the military to the campus, with certain facilities temporarily loaned to the federal government. The subsequent post-war periods were times of dramatic growth for the University. The period between the wars saw significant expansion on the upper campus. Construction of the liberal arts quadrangle, known to students as "The Quad," began in 1916 and continued in stages until 1939. The first two wings of Suzzallo Library, considered the architectural centerpiece of the University, were built in 1926 and 1935, respectively. Further growth came with the end of World War II and passage of the G.I. Bill. Among the most important developments of this period was the opening of the medical school in 1946. It would eventually grow into the University of Washington Medical Center, now ranked by U.S. News and World Report among the top ten hospitals in the United States.

In the early 1950s, the University of Washington Police Department was established. It currently has jurisdiction over the University of Washington campus and University-owned housing, except for the Radford Court apartments in Sand Point.

In the 1960s and 1970s, enrollment at the UW more than doubled--from around 16,000 to 34,000--as the baby boom generation came of age. As was the case at many American universities, this era was marked by high levels of student activism, with much of the unrest focused around opposition to the Vietnam War.

The University opened branch campuses in Bothell and Tacoma in 1990. These campuses offer curricula for students seeking bachelor's degrees who have already completed two years of higher education. They operate master's degree programs as well.


The current president of the University of Washington is Dr. Mark Emmert, the former chancellor of Louisiana State University. Emmert took office as the University's 30th president on June 14, 2004.

The University offers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through its 140 departments, themselves organized into various colleges and schools:

Campus setting and architecture

File:Uw vista.jpg
Rainier Vista looking south of Red Square

The University of Washington, Seattle campus is situated on the shores of Union and Portage Bays, with views of the Cascade Range to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west. Its most popular views are from Suzzallo Library, which has a vista of Mount Rainier to the southeast, the Quad and its Yoshino cherry trees that bloom spectacularly[[1]] each spring to the north, and Red Square spreading out in front of it to the west.

The main campus is bounded on the west by 15th Avenue N.E., on the north by N.E. 45th Street, on the east by Montlake Boulevard N.E., and on the south by N.E. Pacific Street. East Campus stretches east of Montlake Boulevard to Laurelhurst and is largely taken up by wetlands and sports fields. South Campus occupies the land between Pacific Street and the Lake Washington Ship Canal which used to be a golf course and is given over to the health sciences, oceanography, fisheries, and the University of Washington Medical Center. West Campus is less of a separate entity than the others, many of its facilities being on city streets, and stretches between 15th Avenue and Interstate 5 from the Ship Canal to N.E. 41st Street.

The oldest building on campus is Denny Hall. Built in 1895 in the French Renaissance style, it was named in honor of Seattle pioneers Arthur A. and Mary Denny. It served as the core of the University for many years. After other structures were erected near Denny Hall with apparently little overall planning, the Board of Regents determined that a master plan was needed. Early plans, including a preliminary proposal by John C. Olmsted, stepson of renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, had little impact.

File:Uw quad.jpg
The Liberal Arts Quadrangle

Instead, it was the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition that defined much of the campus' future layout. The exposition plan, also designed by John C. Olmsted, defined the University's major axis on the lower campus. Oriented to the southeast, it provides the University with its primary vista of Mount Rainier on clear days. Most of the University's science and engineering buildings line this axis.

After the exposition, the Board of Regents sought a master plan that would unite the newly developed lower campus with the original buildings of the upper campus including Denny Hall. Rejecting a further proposal from Olmsted, the regents instead turned to local architects Carl F. Gould and Charles H. Bebb. Their proposal was accepted, and came to be called the Regents' Plan. It specified a northeast-southwest axis on upper campus around which would be centered the University's liberal arts departments. This axis joins the lower campus axis laid down during the Alaska-Yukon-Pacific Exposition at an open space left behind after a large temporary structure built for the fair was torn down. This space was later paved with a distinctive red brick and has come to be known as Red Square. Some of the buildings from the exposition were kept by the university and have been retrofitted over the years since. One of these is Architecture Hall.

Bebb and Gould's plan also called for all future construction to adhere to a Collegiate Gothic style. This style is best exemplified on the University campus by the early wings of Suzzallo Library, the University's central library.

File:Uw fountain.jpg
Drumheller Fountain

New construction in the 1960s saw a deviation from the Collegiate Gothic style as specified in the Regents' Plan. Business facilities on the upper campus, science and engineering structures on lower campus, and a new wing of Suzzallo Library, were all built in a modernist style, as was a unique, glass-walled building housing an experimental nuclear reactor. The reactor opened in 1961; a small radiation leak in 1972 resulted only in a temporary shutdown, but security concerns eventually led to it being decommissioned. As of 2005 it is in the process of being dismantled. [2]

An apparent attempt to harmonize future development with the Regents' Plan can be seen in the University's most recent construction, including the final wing of the library and a new generation of science and engineering buildings.

Most of the streets and major walkways on campus are named after the state's counties. Major exceptions are Memorial Way, named in honor of members of the UW community who died in World War I, and George Washington Lane.

Other attractions on campus include the Henry Art Gallery and the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture.

Athletics and traditions

UW students, sports teams, and alumni are called Huskies. The husky was selected as the school mascot by student committee in 1922. It replaced the "Sun Dodger," an abstract reference to the local weather that was quickly dropped in favor of something more tangible. The costumed "Harry the Husky" performs at sporting and special events, and a live Alaskan Malamute, currently named Spirit, has traditionally led the UW football team onto the field at the start of games. The school colors of purple and gold were adopted in 1892 by student vote. The choice was purportedly inspired by the first stanza of Lord Byron's The Destruction of Sennacherib:

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
And the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

The sports teams participate in the National Collegiate Athletic Association's Division I-A and in the Pacific Ten Conference. Among its facilities on campus are Husky Stadium (football and track & field), the Bank of America Arena at Hec Edmundson Pavilion (basketball), the Nordstrom Tennis Center and the Conibear Shellhouse] (rowing). The golf team plays at the Washington National Golf Club and the swimming team calls the Weyerhaeuser Aquatic Center and the Husky pool home.

The University football team is traditionally competitive, having won the national championship in the 1991 season, to go along with eight Rose Bowl victories and an Orange Bowl title as of 2004. From 1907 to 1917, Washington football teams were unbeaten in 63 consecutive games, an NCAA record. The Apple Cup game is an annual game against cross-state rival Washington State University that was first contested in 1900. Tyrone Willingham is the current head football coach.

The basketball team has enjoyed recent success. Under coach Lorenzo Romar, the team has been to the NCAA tournament twice, and secured a #1 seed in 2005.

Rowing is a longstanding tradition at the University of Washington dating back to 1901. The Washington men's crew gained international prominence by winning the gold medal at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, defeating the German and Italian crews much to the chagrin of Adolf Hitler who was in attendance[[3]]. In 1958, the men's crew furthered their lore with a shocking win over Leningrad Trud's world champion rowers in Moscow, resulting in the first American sporting victory on Soviet soil, and certainly the first time a Russian crowd gave any American team a standing ovation during the Cold War[[4]]. In all, the Washington men's crew have won 12 national titles, 15 Olympic gold medals, two silver and five bronze. The women have 11 national titles and two Olympic gold medals.

The famous University of Washington Husky Marching Band performs at many Husky sporting events including all football games. The band was founded in 1929, and today it is a cornerstone of Husky spirit. The band marches using a traditional high step, and it is one of only a few marching bands left in the nation to do so.

The student newspaper is The Daily of the University of Washington, usually referred to as simply The Daily.

Notable UW people

See List of University of Washington people


The following individuals have held the office of President of the University of Washington. (Interim presidents are not shown.) The university has a tradition of naming new buildings for former presidents; those who have had buildings named after them are marked with an asterisk.

Asa Shinn Mercer 1861–1863
William Edward Barnard 1863–1866
George Fred Whitworth 1866–1867
John Henry Hall 1869–1872
Eugene Kincaid Hill 1872–1874
George Fred Whitworth 1874–1876
Alexander Jay Anderson 1877–1882
Leonard Jackson Powell 1882–1887
Thomas Milton Gatch 1887–1895
Mark Walrod Harrington 1895–1897
William Franklin Edwards 1897
Frank Pierrepont Graves 1898–1902
Thomas Franklin Kane* 1902–1914
Henry M. Suzzallo* 1915–1926
Matthew Lyle Spencer 1927–1934
Lee Paul Sieg* 1934–1946
Raymond B. Allen 1946–1951
Henry Schmitz* 1952–1958
Charles E. Odegaard* 1958–1973
John R. Hogness 1974–1979
William P. Gerberding* 1979–1995
Richard L. McCormick 1995–2003
Mark Emmert 2004–

External links

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