UW President Ana Mari Cauce to step down after 10 years

Jun 12, 2024, 1:07 PM

uw president cauce...

UW President Ana Mari Cauce announcing her resignation, effective June 2025. (Photo courtesy of UW)

(Photo courtesy of UW)

University of Washington (UW) President Ana Mari Cauce will step down from leading the university once her second five-year term ends in June 2025.

Cauce stated this leadership transition has been in the works for years. She is expected to return to a faculty position.

“Ana Mari Cauce is an outstanding president who has led the UW through some of the most tumultuous times in its history,” David Zeeck, Chair of the UW Board of Regents, said in a statement on behalf of the Board. “She has advanced the university’s public mission through partnerships with legislators, civic leaders and the philanthropic community.

More on UW: Huskies athletic director Troy Dannen leaving for Nebraska

“Few university presidents now serve 10 years,” Zeeck added. “The university has been fortunate to have Ana Mari in this position since 2015.”

Her career with UW accomplished many firsts. She was initially hired as an assistant professor of psychology before becoming the first woman to be the department chair of both the psychology department and the American Ethnic Studies department. When she became UW’s 33rd president in 2015, she was the first woman, the first Latina and the first openly gay person to hold the title of president.

“While I never imagined that my path would lead me here when I arrived as an assistant professor almost 40 years ago, the chance to lead this great public university has been an immense honor and a wonderful experience,” Cauce said in a prepared statement. “I’m deeply grateful to be part of this incredible community that creates so much positive impact in the world.”

UW’s recent ‘tumultuous times’

Cauce’s first term was ending just as the COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. Several scientists from UW and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center tracked the novel coronavirus in January 2020.

“Our opinion was, this is probably not going to be a problem, this is probably going to be a waste of our effort and some money, but we owe it to the people of our area to be prepared,” Dr. Keith Jerome, director of the lab, said in March 2020.

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By March 9, UW fully converted to online classes, no longer having students meet in person. At the same time, the university made Zoom available to all current students, faculty and staff to conduct UW business in a remote environment.

UW Medicine Virology Lab began COVID-19 antibody tests the following month to understand more about the deadly virus and its spread.

For graduation ceremonies, Cauce ushered all three UW campuses to come together for a combined commencement celebration, held online. UW researchers also aided the Washington State Department of Health (WSDOH) in launching an app that would notify users if they have been exposed to COVID-19 — while maintaining privacy.

UW’s pro-Palestinian encampment

A group of pro-Palestinian student protesters set up an encampment in UW’s quad area in May as an attempt to publicly call for the school to divest from Israel and cut ties with Boeing. The encampment lasted for weeks, with tension among students, faculty and staff growing by the day.

The United Front for Palestinian Liberation, leaders of the encampment known as the “Popular University for Gaza liberated zone,” disbanded the encampment last month after reaching an agreement with UW’s administration.

The encampment during the peak of UW tension: More aggressive stance taken at University of Washington encampment

Under Cauce’s leadership, the university agreed to five points with the United Front for Palestinian Liberation, according to The Daily.

Among them, the university will waive tuition for at least 20 displaced Palestinian students from Gaza. It also commits to fundraising to cover additional costs for these students. UW will also “establish a faculty committee to recommend and solicit changes to study abroad programs, that exclude participation from students from specific countries or communities, including Palestinian or other Arab students,” The Daily reported.

The university also stated it will be “transparent about its investment holdings and fund managers.”

Protesters from the United Front have said they were “not satisfied” with the concessions. However, they also stated this was the right time to disband the encampment.

Pac-12 disintegrates during Cauce’s presidency

Last August, UW officially left the Pac-12 once the Big Ten unanimously approved both UW’s and Oregon’s applications to join their conference. Arizona, Arizona State and Utah quickly followed suit, leaving a mass exodus of the 108-year-old conference. Starting in the 2024 fall season, UW will play in the Big Ten athletic conference.

UW will get a reported $30 million per year in a partial share of Big Ten revenue that will increase annually, according to The Seattle Times. Established Big Ten schools will get more than $60 million a year.

Brock Huard on UW’s departure from Pac-12: ‘Tremendous mixed emotions’ over Pac-12 shakeup

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff decided to take the Pac-12 media rights to the open market, but received offers that were less than what they were expecting, causing the exodus of schools to chase more lucrative conferences.

Kliavkoff finalized an offer from Apple this summer worth $25 million guaranteed per year, with additional revenue available if subscription targets were met, but Washington and Oregon rejected the Apple deal and fled to the Big Ten on Aug. 4.

Frank Sumrall is a content editor at MyNorthwest. You can read his stories here and you can email him here.

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