By Assunta Ng
Northwest Asian Weekly
It takes 154 years for the University of Washington to select a woman president.
Ana Mari Cauce is the first woman, the first Latina, and the openly gay president of the University. The UW Regents announced Cauce as the 33rd president of the University on Oct. 13th.
Cauce is known as an insider, beginning her employment as UW faculty since 1986. Cauce became interim president in March 2015, having previously served as provost and executive vice president.
“She (Cauce) is my no. 1 choice,” said Kenyon Chan, chair of the 28-member presidential search committee and UW Bothell Chancellor Emeritus. “The Asian community would be happy (to have Cauce), she understand the issues facing the Asian community.”
“I was hoping” that Cauce would be the one, said Vikram Jandhyala, UW’s Vice Provost for Innovation. He said he’s not surprised that she has been selected.
Faculty has shown strong support of Cauce. Several top-rank UW officials including deans and members of the faculty senate gathered for the celebration reception at the President’s office, after the Regents’ announcement.
They applauded as Cauce entered the room. They toasted to Cauce with champagne and shouted “speech!”.
Cauce responded, “I love you all.”
The other three finalists chosen out of 70 applicants paled in comparison to Cauce as the “best and most qualified,” according to Chan and other guests in the search committee. “She fits our needs,” stated Chan.
Former UW President Michael Young, from Utah, left UW after four years for Texas A&M University in March for higher pay. Interim President Phyllis Wise, an Asian American, was discouraged to apply for the president’s job.
One of the reasons Young was chosen, was because he told the UW regents that it would be his last job before retiring. The consensus among many in the community was that Young’s heart was never at UW, and he did not have much for the University.
This time, Cauce (while serving as interim president), was invited to apply. Cauce, 59, has established her loyalty as a Husky for decades.
Raised in Miami after emigrating with her family from Cuba, Cauce earned degrees in English and psychology from the University of Miami and a Ph.D. in psychology from Yale University.
During her UW career, Cauce has been appointed to various leadership positions, including director of the UW Honors Program, chair of American Ethnic Studies, chair of Psychology, executive vice provost and dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. For her teaching, scholarship, and advocacy, Cauce has received numerous awards, including the Distinguished Teaching Award in 1999.
Cauce is a professor of Psychology and American Ethnic Studies, with secondary appointments in the Department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies and the College of Education. She maintains an active research program, focusing on adolescent development, with a special emphasis on at-risk youth. She is also a strong advocate for women and underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Cauce remains active in the classroom and continues to teach and mentor students. (end)
Assunta Ng can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.