The Board of Regents February meeting ended with a standing ovation.
“I guess I should say I accept,” UW Provost Ana Mari Cauce said.
Since the announcement that the UW’s current president Michael K. Young will be leaving for Texas A&M University 10 days ago, the board has been deliberating on who to place as interim president.
“It is now my pleasure to put forward the motion in point,” Chairman Bill Ayer said, “Ana Mari Cauce as interim president of the University of Washington.”
When President Young’s contract is terminated March 2, Cauce will officially take his place. Her compensation will start at $524,784 annually, with deferred compensation at $50,000 to $150,000 a year.
“In my entire career of higher education, I have never worked with anyone who is more passionate about education,” President Young said. “I have been in awe of Ana Mari. The university will thrive.”
Cauce will be the second female president in the UW’s 154-year history. Phyllis Wise held the interim president position from 2010-2011 after former president Mark Emmert left and before Young was hired.
“Ana Mari, students adore you,” said ASUW President Christina Xiao. “You are so understanding of the student perspective. Students can tell that you genuinely listen to what they’re saying, not only at the university but with their education and their lives, so we’re very happy about this.”
However, there were more things on the agenda than the announcement of the UW’s new interim president.
“I would like to take this moment, though, to note the amount of activity that we’ve experienced so far this legislative cycle,” said Sarah Hall, assistant vice provost of Planning & Budgeting. “It’s been one for the record books. We have had 433 bills to track so far this session.”
One of those bills was introduced the same day the Board of Regents meeting took place. Senate Bill 5954 proposes a large rollback in tuition, bringing tuition down to $7,360 a year, according to Roy Hodgins, vice president of external affairs. However, the state would need to make up the difference of $5,023 through public funding and support. The bill is scheduled to be addressed in a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Feb. 17 in Olympia.
Affordability can’t be thrown away at the expense of excellence, Cauce said. However, she also said she has been, and continues to be supportive of affordability.
“Both of my parents worked in a shoe factory,” Cauce said, “and they didn’t have a whole lot of money, but I always had good shoes. And that’s what mattered, that the foundation wasn’t cheap. It was the value. At the end of the day, that’s what’s important.”
Another consideration passing through the legislature is a potential tuition freeze. Both Alumni Association President Roy Diaz and GPSS President Alice Popejoy said a tuition freeze cannot happen without investment. If it does, this means raising graduate tuition as well as the general cutting of university funds.
“I think what a lot of legislatures don’t necessarily understand is that if they freeze undergraduate tuition without investment in the universities, that that really impacts graduate students,” Popejoy said.
Official decisions have yet to be made regarding tuition, as today marks the one-third completion of the 105-day Washington State legislative session. Serious budget updates won’t come in until a later date, estimated to be around March 18.