Graduate students propel discovery and innovation.
Long before I became a university president, I was drawn to higher education by my love of research. From my days as an undergraduate psychology major through my years leading my own adolescent psychology lab here at the University of Washington, research held the key to answering critical questions. I quickly learned that graduate students are at the heart of that work. The fantastic alchemy of collaboration between faculty and students is at the heart of many discoveries, from new cures and technology to our understanding of history and cultures throughout the world.
But competition for the world’s most promising graduate students is as fierce as the stakes are high. Not only are these students training to become the next generation of experts and educators, they are critical to the excellence of our academic ecosystem. They teach undergraduates and serve as research assistants, protégés and colleagues for faculty. They propel discovery and new knowledge.
Graduate students help make our university a more productive and attractive home for leading scholars and scientists. Transformative research requires a team of talented, highly trained people with the resources to conduct the challenging work that leads to breakthroughs and innovation. Ideas that begin as a seed of conversation between a faculty member and a graduate student take root in the lab and are nourished by rigorous methodology, expertise, insight and hard work.
Although the UW is among the nation’s research leaders, sustaining our impact requires a renewed focus on graduate education. Under the leadership of Provost Mark Richards and dean of the Graduate School, Joy Williamson-Lott, we have launched a $5 million initiative to strengthen recruitment and support of Ph.D. students among 82 academic units. The funding will pay for fellowships, stipends, training and more—for some students, choosing a program can depend on whether they have the financial support to live in Seattle, or the funding to pay for the tools and travel for their research. Part of the money will be offered as matching funds to encourage philanthropic support.
The excellence of our scholarship, research and innovation is fundamental to the good we do for the people and places we serve. By increasing support for graduate students, we can fulfill our mission as a destination for researchers with the potential to change the world.