The world is changing.
And while that is always true, it has taken on new urgency and demanded the very best of us. Our Leadership for a Changing World strategic plan is designed to prepare our students for success in a year that has amplified the relevance of a Puget Sound education in more ways than we can count.
“We got this, Loggers!” has been our mantra throughout the year. In response to the global health crisis, we harnessed technology and the creativity of our faculty and staff members like never before to pivot to remote learning and operations in March 2020. Our first and highest goal: to keep our campus community safe and ensure that students would be able to make uninterrupted progress toward their academic goals.
We graduated our Class of 2020 virtually, and welcomed our incoming Classes of 2024 the same way. Nearly every aspect of campus life was re-imagined, from course schedules to cocurricular activities to residential life. Laboratories, the library, performing arts, student support services, summer sessions—everything kept going. Not just in a pale virtual imitation of our residential liberal arts experience, but in innovative ways designed to both challenge and support our students.
With an increased ability to provide testing, contact tracing, and quarantining by the fall, we were able to welcome nearly 300 students back into our residence halls, reopen our athletic facilities, resume practice and training for student-athletes, keep operating our science laboratories for student and faculty research, and more. With nearly 700 students living off, but near, campus, we have been able to create safe spaces to engage learning on campus, providing quiet places for study and access (on a limited, socially distanced basis) to Collins Memorial Library and other academic and cocurricular support services.
Our efforts have focused both within and outside the boundaries of our campus community as we have engaged with current and prospective students, their families, and our alumni across the United States. The advent of a broad and passionate call for racial and social justice has ignited our campus community, supported by outstanding work by our Race & Pedagogy Institute; faculty members in African American studies and academic departments across campus; educational opportunities and training developed by our staff members; and effective activism on the part of our students. We know this work is not ours alone to do, and I am proud of the efforts of our campus community to make not just our campus but our community a more just and equitable space for all.
Our students, faculty, and staff members have been heroic throughout the past year, demonstrating levels of creativity, flexibility, and resilience that have been inspiring. We deeply appreciate the engagement of our alumni, parents, donors, and other friends of Puget Sound, who have been so generous in every conceivable way: supporting students, participating in the annual Logger Day Challenge, attending virtual events, and so much more.
While I was unable to travel for the last half of the year and missed seeing Loggers in the cities where you live, it was a great pleasure to connect with even greater numbers of alumni, parents, and friends of Puget Sound via digital town hall meetings and other events. Your engagement with students, support of the university, and desire to see us through these challenging times were compassionate, selfless, and deeply appreciated. The future of this great university and of our current and future students is bright because of your generous commitment to Puget Sound’s educational mission.
I am often asked about the privilege (and the pressures) of serving as a college president in what is widely acknowledged as a challenging time for higher education in our country. The answer to that is easy: We are a community of leaders. Every day I am grateful to be a member of a community that is so committed to our educational mission. It is this commitment that calls us to put our students at the forefront of every decision we make, and it is your support that makes it possible to help our students discover their own unique paths to unlocking their fullest intellectual and human potential, and to becoming the leaders our world most needs. We are in the business of changing lives for the better every day.
Colin Glaze ’22 spent his summer working with Professor Jeff Tepper to investigate the effects of aluminum sulfate treatments on local lakes.
Every Puget Sound student has access to career services at every stage of their educational experience—and it makes a difference.
In addition to pursuing work in the public and private sectors upon graduation, our students continue to pursue postgraduate education at rates that are among the highest for colleges in the country. Nearly 20% of undergraduate students pursue graduate education at Puget Sound or elsewhere; year after year, we continue to see high rates of acceptance for postgraduate study, especially for medical, dental, and law schools, as well as our own programs in occupational therapy, physical therapy, and education.
We are actively strengthening the connections between our undergraduate and graduate programs, with a particular focus on preparing students for careers in emerging areas that meet important needs in our community.
The student-run physical therapy teaching clinic provides pro bono services to community members.
We are pleased to serve as a cultural and intellectual asset in the community we so proudly call home. Our students come to Tacoma from across the country and around the world, ready to invest their time, talent, and energy right here in Western Washington. This reciprocal relationship benefits our campus community by opening up new resources and opportunities for students, and supports the economic development of our community by providing ready access to our talented Logger graduates. The vast majority of our graduates remain in the Pacific Northwest and contribute in meaningful and varied ways to the communities in which they live.
Professor Priti Joshi teaches at the Washington Corrections Center for Women.
DEGREE PROGRAM FOR INCARCERATED WOMEN
In October 2019, we announced the development of a bachelor’s degree program for incarcerated women in the Washington Corrections Center for Women in partnership with Freedom Education Project Puget Sound (FEPPS). The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awarded Puget Sound a $1 million grant to support the implementation of the program, which will create pathways to educational and career opportunities for students upon their release from prison.
RACE & PEDAGOGY INSTITUTE
Following a successful national conference in 2018 and preparing for its next in 2022, the Race & Pedagogy Institute continued to work to educate students and teachers at all levels to think critically about race, to cultivate terms and practices for societal transformation, and to act to eliminate racism.
Over the past year, we hosted a diverse array of events on campus, with visits from inspiring guest lecturers, scientists, artists, musicians, historians, and political figures, including presentations by our own faculty and student scholars on topics ranging from criminal justice reform to entrepreneurship, community-supported urban agriculture, Chinese innovation, Puyallup nation sovereignties, and more.
TACOMA PUBLIC SCHOOLS COMMITMENT
To help make a Puget Sound education accessible to students in our own backyard, this program meets the full demonstrated financial need of qualified students from our local community. This year we welcomed 27 students, for a total of 101.
Puget Sound is and must be a place where ideas, beliefs, backgrounds, and experiences converge. This lends a richness to the Puget Sound experience that allows us all to learn from one another, appreciate difference, interrogate ideas, confront our biases, and do the important work of building bridges in an increasingly pluralistic society.
Over the past four years, we have seen about 30% of the members of our incoming classes identify as students of color, and made important gains in the diversification of our faculty. Our Race & Pedagogy Institute led a series of conversations about race throughout the summer in response to national events, and the President’s Advisory Panel on Racism, composed of students, faculty members, staff members, alumni, and trustees, will help further our institutional commitment to this work. In October 2019, our board of trustees approved a new position— vice president for institutional equity and diversity. A search is underway, and we hope to name our first incumbent early in 2021.
CAMPUS CLIMATE SURVEY
Over the past year, we held a series of educational sessions for the campus community to understand the results of our most recent campus climate survey, which looks at the reported experiences of students, faculty members, and staff members regarding gender and identity, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, socioeconomic status, and political beliefs.
In 2015, Puget Sound was named a partner of The Posse Foundation, a national organization committed to recruiting outstanding student leaders from diverse backgrounds to the nation’s top colleges. This past May, we celebrated the graduation of our first cohort of Posse Scholars—virtually. It was such a pleasure to celebrate the success of these young people who have brought so much to our campus community, and who are so well-prepared and poised to continue as leaders in all facets of their lives.
ACCESS PROGRAMS AND SUMMER ACADEMIC CHALLENGE
In partnership with Tacoma Public Schools, Puget Sound continues to help middle and high school students prepare for college through campus visits, special programs and tutoring sessions, and interaction with students and faculty members. This year, we welcomed seven young scholars to Puget Sound from these programs.
More than 4,500 of you made gifts amounting to more than $2.51 million through the Puget Sound Fund last year. Here are just a few of the ways we put your gifts to work.
Together, we are realizing the hopes and dreams of new generations of Loggers every day. The 2019–20 academic year has been one for the record books. Thank you, again, for everything you have done to keep us connected to our past, rooted in the present, and focused on an ever brighter future.
Isiaah Crawford, Ph.D.