Over the past year, I have taken to the road to talk about Puget Sound with alumni, parents, donors, and friends of the university, crisscrossing back and forth from Tacoma to Washington, D.C., Minneapolis to Honolulu, San Francisco to New York, Chicago to Los Angeles, and points in between. Few experiences better demonstrate the lasting power of a Puget Sound education than being in a room full of our talented alumni and hearing about all the ways in which they live our mission and make the world a better place: building communities, advancing health care, inventing new technologies, creating art, leading businesses, changing economies, and making real and positive impacts on the lives of others.
The entrepreneurial spirit of our community truly is one of our greatest strengths. This report is dedicated to you—all of you—who seek to unlock new possibilities and the opportunities of a changing world, and to inspire our current and future students to new heights of achievement. In a cultural moment that often seeks to divide rather than unite, the world is crying out for what we offer: an education that prepares students to meet the very highest tests of engaged democracy and live their lives in service to others.
With your support, University of Puget Sound is thinking boldly and broadly about the difference that our liberal arts education can and should make. This vision is at the root of our ambitious 10-year strategic plan, Leadership for a Changing World. It is a great pleasure to share with you our progress in advancing our goals in service to the students we are privileged to welcome into our campus community today, and the ones who will follow in their footsteps.
Our highest priority is to ensure that every graduate—not just our most energetic and ambitious—is fully prepared to go out into the world with the knowledge, skills, and resilience to navigate an always-changing world and grow into the leaders our communities need.
Our approach to liberal arts education means that our students aren’t bound by a single discipline or way of thinking. It combines the strengths of a broad and deep liberal arts education with the skills most in demand in the world today, enabling students to integrate their knowledge and experiences, and put them into practice from the first day they set foot on campus.
The key to making this possible is an inspiring faculty that provides innovative opportunities for students to learn by doing: tackling the most critical issues of our time through their classes, as well as internships, mentored independent research, study away opportunities, and other high-impact experiences. Leveraging our connections here in the South Sound—as well as up and down the dynamic I-5 corridor, throughout the country, and around the world—a Puget Sound education is a 24/7 living and learning experience that positions our students for lives of meaning and service.
Connecting our students to meaningful applied learning opportunities prepares them for success. In addition to conducting research and scholarship with our faculty, all students have access to career services, including interview and resume workshops, job-shadowing opportunities, career fairs, and information sessions. This year, I am proud to share that Puget Sound received national recognition for Compass Puget Sound, an award-winning program that helps student staff members connect their campus work experiences to both their academic interests and future employment opportunities.
With nearly 20% of undergraduate students pursuing graduate education, at Puget Sound or elsewhere, we continue to see very high acceptance rates for postgraduate study, especially for medical, dental, and law schools, and including our own programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and education. To make the most of this strength, we are actively working to enhance the connections between our undergraduate and graduate programs, building on the ways in which we are exceptionally well positioned to prepare students for careers in high-demand areas that meet critical needs in our community. Going forward, we will modestly increase our graduate programming to meet student demand, serve community needs, and create an important source of revenue diversification to sustain all of our future efforts.
A few markers of our progress:
As a leading residential national liberal arts college, we maintain a national and inter-national outlook even as we enhance our efforts to support the cultural and economic development of the South Sound region. Strengthening local partnerships and building new ones, especially in fast-growing sectors, benefits both the local community and the students who come to Tacoma from more than 35 states and nine countries, fluent in more than 17 languages and ready to invest their time, talent, and energy right here in Western Washington.
Our students are ready to engage, not just with ideas and opportunities on campus but also with community partners who can provide hands-on experience in a wide variety of fields. We will ensure that every student has a series of mentors throughout their college experience to help them test what they are learning, connect to meaningful opportunities, and create a strong path forward. In the past year, many students benefited from a pilot alumni mentorship program pairing students with alumni who are experts in a broad range of industries and professions. We look forward to growing this program in the coming year in response to strong interest from both students and alumni.
We are also committed to giving back to the South Sound region we are so proud to call our home. With a student population of 2,600, nearly 700 full-time faculty and staff members, and thousands of visitors to campus each year, Puget Sound contributes more than $100 million annually to the local economy. In addition, Puget Sound offers an array of intellectual and cultural programming that nourishes the hearts and minds of our community and further enhances the well-being of our region.
The demands on new college graduates are increasing—along with their expectations for what a college education will prepare them to do. In an era defined by a swift pace of change in the ways we communicate, learn, and work, students must have a broad range of skills and experiences—and the emotional intelligence and support—to create their own versions of success in an always-changing job market. We must ensure that all students have the tools they need to be successful, while weaving together a learning community with the range of backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives that truly reflect the world in which we live.
The demographics of our country are quickly changing, with decreasing numbers of high school graduates and increasing numbers of first-generation and minority students. Over the past three years, we have seen more than 30% of the members of our incoming classes identify as students of color, with similar gains in the diversification of our faculty. We are pleased by these advances and recognize it is incumbent upon us to make sure our campus community is warm and welcoming for all to who live, learn, work, and succeed here.
With your help, over the past few years, we have demonstrated this commitment by revitalizing our student diversity center; creating the Tacoma Public Schools Commitment to meet the full demonstrated financial need of qualified students from our community; investing in Access Programs; and partnering with The Posse Foundation, which brings to Puget Sound talented student leaders from underserved communities.
None of this would be possible without you. Through the dedicated leadership of our board of trustees; generous service of the Alumni Council and Parents Council; and sup-port of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, students, and other friends of Puget Sound, we are realizing the hopes and dreams of new generations of Loggers every day.
The second annual Logger Day Challenge on March 26, 2019, was a particularly proud day for our community: In 24 hours, more than 1,700 Loggers raised more than $240,000 for scholarships, academic programs, Logger athletics, and more. It was the largest day of participatory giving in Puget Sound history, with gifts made from alumni representing 62 classes.
During the course of the year, we were also pleased to gather with scholarship donors and members of our President’s Leadership Society and Legacy Society, distinguished groups of our most generous partners, who have made significant commitments to support Puget Sound’s innovative programs, scholarships, and services for students and faculty members that allow us to reach new heights every day.
Perhaps never before has the world been so in need of what we are called to do: preparing the world’s next generation of visionary leaders. By continuing to embrace new challenges and pursue new opportunities with a spirit of innovation and courage, Puget Sound is well positioned to provide a truly distinctive liberal arts education that produces graduates with skills, experiences, and attributes that are highly impactful, relevant, and marketable not only today but in the future.
Thank you for sharing this vision and contributing in so many essential ways to the success of our students.
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D.