This message was sent to all UW Bothell students, faculty and staff on October 6, 2021.
Dear UW Bothell community,
I have just spent my first few days on campus, and I couldn't have asked for a friendlier, more welcoming environment. Even the sun made an appearance last Friday, my first official day. I was able to meet some of our students, our dedicated staff and our talented faculty.
I hope that your start to the new academic year has been equally welcoming and that the transition back to campus has gone smoothly for you.
As I start my role as your chancellor, I want to send my gratitude to the hundreds of staff, students and faculty who are working so hard to make our campus welcoming and safe. I want to acknowledge the enormity and importance of this critical task and most especially honor the many essential employees who have been keeping our campus community healthy and connected over the last 18 months.
Learning the people, the place
My very first and most important task is to get to know the distinct culture of UW Bothell.
I am a sociologist by training, and I look to the tools of my discipline — listening, observation — as a way to learn about the world. I believe these tools will serve me well in trying to learn about and lead this extraordinary learning community.
I was asked recently what appeals to me most about UW Bothell. First and foremost, it's the people, and especially our students. They are diverse. They are hardworking. They are talented. And they are truly the reason we are all here.
Another distinction is our focus on interdisciplinary work. As you know so well, that’s how people solve problems in the real world — not just using the lens of one discipline but using the lenses of many disciplines. This way of doing research and teaching prepares students well for life after graduation and ensures that we are well poised to address the pressing issues of the day.
I also think of our commitment to the environment and sustainability. It’s part and parcel of this campus and this community, and is ever more critical as we see the dramatic effects of climate change in our world.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, is our campus commitment to ensuring an equitable and welcoming environment for all. This dedication to diversity and inclusion is an essential part of the UW Bothell identity.
Moving forward together
As UW Bothell’s new chancellor, I am asked by many people what plans I have for this quarter and this academic year.
Certainly, we must make sure that as folks come back to campus they feel comfortable and safe. The return to face-to-face instruction can be a real challenge because this campus has been remote for so long. We need to ensure that the campus community comes back as safely as possible, feels comfortable being back on campus and has the tools needed to resume in-person instruction.
I want to make sure that people get a chance to know me, as well. My hope is that when you see me walking around campus — and you will — you’ll feel comfortable coming up to say hello and introduce yourself. I’m eager to hear your Bothell story: how you came to Bothell, what Bothell means to you and what your visions are for our future.
Moving forward together, it is also critical to assess where we are as a campus. As we consider the three pillars of our strategic plan — strengthening diversity and inclusion, enhancing community and campus engagements, and advancing cross-disciplinary teaching and scholarship — we must ask, what have we done? What still needs to be accomplished? Most important is an equity audit. As a campus, Bothell has prioritized diversity and inclusion from its very founding, and yet there is so much work to be done.
As we create a shared vision for our future, I want to make sure that we are building on the foundational work that is already in place.
Starting where we are
I want to take a moment to offer some advice to our students.
Get engaged. What we know about student success is that students who connect with their faculty, the staff and their peers are more likely to succeed. We want you to succeed.
Especially for students who are the first in their families to go to college — almost 40% of our incoming students each year — know that you belong here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your faculty, ask questions. We are here for you.
The beauty of a smaller campus like UW Bothell is that we can get to know and care for students deeply. We put students at the center of our work, and we want to ensure that every student has an environment in which to learn and grow and thrive. Indeed, I want every member of our diverse campus community — students, faculty and staff — to feel valued and to have the ability to study and work in an inclusive and equitable environment.
As the pandemic continues, we will need to remain flexible. So I end this first message to you as chancellor with my thanks and gratitude for the creativity of this entire community. Together, we will continue to adapt and rise to all the challenges we face.
Kristin Esterberg, Ph.D.
Professor of Sociology