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President Young wants to be your friend

UW President Michael Young gives his annual address to a crowd of students, faculty, and the Board of Regents. Photo by Joshua Bessex

In his annual address to the university community yesterday, President Michael Young trumpeted the glories of how strong the UW really is.

He acknowledged that these are “difficult times.” But, throughout his speech, Young focused on the existing strengths that will carry the UW to safety.

“I don’t think that there are any other universities in the nation as able to address this [as University of Washington],” Young said.

A recurring theme was the strong research community, and Young seemed very proud that UW is ranked 16th in a global ranking of research universities.

“Behind every dollar, I have seen again and again truly remarkable work going on,” he said.

He referenced several large UW studies, such as the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, I-TECH (International Training & Education Center for Health), and a recent $40 million federal grant to study biofuels derived from wood instead of corn.

He said the biofuel research is exciting because it wields “the possibility to restart the timber industry,” and, unlike ethanol that is derived from corn, “will not cause food riots in Haiti.”

Young said it’s how research at the UW addresses “day-to-day problems” that make him believe the university has such a collaborative and interdisciplinary research culture.

Aside from research, Young praised the strength of the faculty and students. He emphasized diversity, telling the audience that 30 percent of this years’ incoming freshman class consists of first-generation college students. Many of those students rely on financial aid — specifically programs like the Husky Promise, which guarantees students a UW education if their families meet or fall below a certain income.

“We estimate that 8,800 [students] will be eligible, and we will be able to support them on the Husky Promise,” Young said.

Besides financial aid, Young also hinted at broader structural changes.

“We need to work on organizational structures and collaborative models,” Young said. “We need to find significant efficiencies in our business model.”

In his address, Young raised questions that were rhetorical in nature that emphasized how the UW will soon be changing. He asked what the federal deficit means for future overall university- and research-specific funding.

“Tuition has gone up, but how sustainable is that? … The medium income-level is declining,” Young said.

He said that, though he has strong ideas, he hopes to be an instigator of and part of a larger “collaborative process” at the UW and doesn’t plan on dictating every action of the university.

After a short question-and-answer session, Young ended the speech by joking that, if he missed anyone’s question, they were more than welcome “to like [his] Facebook page.”

“It’s President. Michael. K. Young.” Young said. “I invite you to be my friend.”

Reach reporter Katherine McKeon at news@dailyuw.com.

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