UW bids farewell to trio of transformational leaders

The strangest academic year anyone can remember is nearly over. As we celebrate 12,000 new University of Washington graduates, we also have the special opportunity to honor three academic leaders who are retiring after serving the University for more than 60 years combined.

We salute Robert Stacey, who served on the faculty of the Department of History for 33 years and retires after serving as dean of the College of Arts & Sciences, which produces more than half of all UW bachelor’s degrees on the Seattle campus,  since 2013; Lisa Graumlich, ’85, the inaugural dean of the College of the Environment 25 years after she earned her Ph.D. here; and Betsy Wilson, who since 2001 has led the massive, spectacular UW Libraries system, and oversaw a total transformation of what it means to be a library.

Three individuals, 64 total years of service to the University—as teachers, mentors, administrators, visionaries, leaders, friends. They created spaces for students to learn and grow, and dealt with everything that came their way, from 9/11 and the Great Recession to vulnerable budgets, expanding numbers of student applicants, head-spinning technological developments, the explosion of students going into STEM fields, a pandemic, you name it. Their commitment to students and to providing the best possible educational opportunities never wavered.

Stacey, who joined the UW faculty in 1988, is an expert on the history of Jews in medieval England, and a recipient of a Distinguished Teaching Award. Graumlich has used tree-ring data to understand long-term trends in climate, focusing on the mountains of western North America. And Wilson, who led a network of 16 academic research libraries across all three campuses, as well as the UW Press, is an expert in digitization and how to make the UW Libraries’ incredible resources available to students and interested parties everywhere through open-access initiatives and programs. They covered everything from history, literature, arts and natural sciences to studies on climate, ecology, and natural resource management, to collecting and making available key resources for educators, students, scholars, the public.

We will miss Robert Stacey, Lisa Graumlich and Betsy Wilson. But the University will seek the best leaders to carry on their legacies and maintain the excellence they brought here.