"And the oarsman, too, when he has his mind trained at the University and his body fit, feels something that reminds me a bit of Browning: 'How good is man's life, the mere living!  How fit to use all the heart and the soul and the senses for the joy of it!'..."  George Pocock

The Washington Experience

Lake Washington on one side.  Lake Union on the other.  Between them, the 643-acre campus of the University of Washington gradually slopes northward from the Montlake Cut.  Spacious, and in many ways as pristine as it was 100 years ago, the campus and halls are as unique as the Pacific Northwest itself.

At the University of Washington, our student-athletes are here to learn.  To set goals and achieve them.  They are here to share experiences and to grow physically and intellectually.  Our professors and coaches are here to challenge their students, but along with that challenge comes great opportunity.  That ethic has been a cornerstone of the rowing team at Washington since the days of Conibear and Pocock (see Pocock's quote above);  the four years on the water, and in the classroom, highly valued by the men and women who have rowed for, and graduated from, the UW.

The school is strongly rooted in the community.  It is the center for higher learning and the exchange of ideas in the region.  From the arts and sciences, to business, to medicine - it attracts the highest caliber global talent both in teaching and research.  Seattle itself feels the effect, with one of the most educated populations in the US, many as graduates or in varying degrees associated with the UW itself.  Alums stay connected.  Borne through the ethic learned as students, the University - and the rowing team itself - has benefited for generations from the generosity of our graduates.

That positive environment, and global presence, is felt as a student.  Professors are engaged.  Fellow students are energized. The diverse Seattle community is welcoming.  It is an environment that is at one moment highly specialized academically, while at another moment exciting, new, and uniquely reflective of the Seattle region and the State of Washington.


The University of Washington is one of the highest rated public universities in the United States.  It is also one of the top-rated research universities in the world, with over 6,000 employees working with over one billion dollars in annual grants.  Founded before the first transcontinental railroad was completed, the University today is integrally connected with the social, scientific, and commercial fabric of the Pacific Northwest.

Academic success of all student-athletes has been a priority of the Washington athletic department since inception. Washington was the first in the nation to implement an academic support system for their athletes in 1972, a program that has grown into an ethic taken very seriously by the University and the alumni of Washington.  This commitment to academics has been recognized nationally by the NCAA as a "Program of Excellence", highlighting the areas of career enhancement, personal development, community service, and academic support.  The Student Athlete Academic Center is located in the same modern building as Conibear Shellhouse, and is supported annually by a budget of over 1 million dollars.

The University of Washington

The University was founded in 1861 in what is now downtown Seattle.  At the turn of the 19th century, as the school outgrew the original location, the community chose the current site for the campus.  At the time, five miles from downtown was a long ways.  But the natural draw of the new land was attractive - as was the size.  And with the help of the 1909 World's Fair (officially called the Alaska-Yukon Exposition) located on site, the school quickly gained global notoriety.  From that moment on, the UW, as it continues today, was a Northwest fixture.

In 2011 the University of Washington will be 150 years old.  Throughout that time, the school has grown with the community around it.  It is the backbone of higher learning in the greater Seattle area, with strong ties to locally founded companies including Microsoft, Amazon, Paccar, Boeing, Starbucks and Nordstrom.  As the central academic and research facility in the Pacific Northwest, the UW is a cornerstone for regional progress and a major contributor to the national discourse on a multitude of subjects, from medicine, to engineering, science and commerce.

The University has 86 faculty members who are members of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Institute of Medicine, the National Academy of Sciences, or the National Academy of Engineering. This is the 4th highest total of academy members among public universities, and the 12th highest total of academy members among all universities in the nation.

Six UW faculty members have won Nobel Prizes, and 10 UW faculty members have won ‘genius grants’ from the MacArthur Foundation.

National Rankings

The University of Washington is highly ranked across a multitude of surveys and studies (keep in mind the various methodologies and comparisons taken in these studies).  It was ranked 16th internationally by the Academic Ranking of World Universities in 2008 and ranked 22nd internationally by Newsweek's "Top 100 Global Universities".  The School of Medicine (University of Washington School of Medicine) and the School of Nursing are both rated first by US News and World Report, with a total of 20 UW graduate programs ranked in the top 20 nationally in that study.


Video: An aerial and walking tour of the UW campus (4 min, wmv file)


Other highly ranked schools include engineering, sociology, and law.  A private review in 2007 by the National Opinion Research Center, measuring private and public universities on science, humanities, and "how well it promotes an ethic of service to country", ranked Washington 14th (out of 242) in the United States. Washington is also recognized as the top producing university for Peace Corps volunteers - Peace Corps | The Career Center at the University of Washington

The Foster School of Business is one of the premier business schools in the Unites States and receives consistently high marks from international business groups, while the UW Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship was ranked 5th best in the country in 2006 by Entrepreneur magazine and the UW Executive MBA program ranked third by The Economist.  More stats for the Foster School are here - Rankings - Michael G. Foster School of Business - University of Washington - Seattle.

Kiplinger, in their February 2011 issue, placed Washington 10th in their "100 Best Values in Public Colleges" (Best Values In Public Colleges 2011).  The faculty at Washington, and medical, scientific, and engineering research facilities associated with the University, consistently receive very high ratings from independent ratings and trade organizations.  All of these rankings - and the proven value of each graduate when they leave campus - are consistent with the history, mission, and growth of this institution over the last century and a half.

Rankings aside, the UW is the largest recipient of federal research dollars among public universities and second among all public and private universities in the country.  In 2006, the University of Washington's public and private research budget passed $1 billion (1.037 billion in 2008), with virtually all of the funding coming from peer-reviewed research proposals. The UW research budget consistently ranks among the top five in both public and private universities across the country.  More on rankings and research here - World Leaders in Research:: Facts FY 2008 (pdf).

More statistics and a multitude of information on the UW can be found here - The University of Washington: The Quick Guide

The Washington Student-Athlete Academic Center

Completed in 2005, the UW's Athletic Academic center, located in the west wing of Conibear Shellhouse, is the centerpiece of the school's commitment to their student-athletes.  It includes a large learning space, exclusive to the student-athlete population, 35 desktop computers (where you may find our coxswains logging reports daily), several meeting rooms and independent study areas, a tutor lounge and resource room.  The second floor houses the staff (University of Washington Athlete Academic Services - Meet the Staff).

All Washington student-athletes are encouraged to take advantage of the counseling, tutoring and learning opportunities provided by this state-of-the-art facility.  And it works.  Washington has the highest graduation rate of athletes at public schools in the Pac-10.

The most recent GSR (Graduation Success Rate) as released by the NCAA and measured for students entering college from 1999-2000 and 2002 -2003, ranks Washington among the highest schools in the nation for graduation among student-athletes.  Scott Woodward:  "We place a great value on academic success at Washington and these strong graduation rates are a testament to the hard work and dedication of our student-athletes, coaches and staff. We are blessed with having a world-class academic and research institution and it is no coincidence that we succeed on a national level in athletics as well."  More - Washington Again Posts Excellent Grad Rates - University of Washington Official Athletics Site

The Rowing Team

Conibear Shellhouse.  The wing directly ahead in this photo is the UW Student-Athlete Academic Center.

It is not by accident that the Student Athlete Academic Center is located in Conibear Shellhouse.  Central to the athletic complex at Washington, and situated on the quiet shores of Lake Washington, the setting is ideal for academics.  For the Washington rower it is simple; come off the water, shower and dress, walk the stairs up one floor, and sit down in the computer/tech lab of the Academic Center.

But education is not only about tools and technology.  Education is an ethic.  To learn requires discipline and an environment that encourages it.  At Washington, that ethic is as much a part of our tradition as are the results on the water.

The rowing team has consistently, over the decades, been at or near the top for highest GPA and highest graduation rates among varsity sports at Washington (spring quarter 2008 the men's team earned the highest team GPA among UW large men's teams). The Schaller trophy and scholarship, awarded each year to the men's and women's varsity team members with the highest GPA, has been handed out for over sixty years, and reflects the high value placed on academics within the program.

Washington Rowing graduates can be found across the country and world pursuing their chosen professions.  In Seattle alone, many of the top business leaders spent time in the program, and there are a number of multi-generational families that have pulled a Washington oar, even brothers and sisters at the same time.  Rowing and a Washington education have been a strong part of the Seattle community for over a century now.

The Washington rowing program has always seen itself as a program in concert with learning.  And through it's lessons provide an advantage to our students.  Thirty years ago George Pocock summed it up best:  "But rowing and education, training the mind and training the body, are very necessary.  And the lessons of rowing are great.  It's been called an advanced sport.  It isn't advanced in the way of orbiting the earth, but in developing the whole [person]."


February 18, 2010:  UW Rowing: Taking Advantage Of Academic Opportunities At Washington:  "It's a very tight-knit and supportive group," Darby said. "This facility, I could live here. We joke that throughout the day we gradually move upstairs. There's a great study area and there's a lot of drop-in tutoring."

Balancing the two has been a tricky act for Ty Otto, who manages to row while double-majoring in physics and political science. Otto is another East Coaster who was drawn to the Pacific Northwest, based on what he called the "intense vitality" of the team and the campus on his recruiting visit. He sensed a Type-A atmosphere, where rowers trained hard, studied hard and then took their weekends to climb and explore the backcountry of Western Washington.

"It's great having the high-caliber faculty here and a university that's capable of supporting your interests," Otto said. "That's one of the many benefits of being here."



The Seattle skyline, with the Seattle Center in the foreground and Mount Rainier in the background, taken from Queen Anne Hill

Bordered on two sides by water - Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east - Seattle is home to the University of Washington.  The campus is located in the "University District" of the city, itself bordered on two sides by water (Lake Washington and Lake Union), and centrally located between the I-520 interchange and I-5.  It is about five miles and a roughly 10 - 15 minute drive (depending on the time of day) to downtown Seattle.

As noted earlier, the University plays a central role in the city and region.  Originally located downtown and moved at the turn of the 19th century, the UW has grown as a partner with the city.

Statistically, the greater Seattle area (including Bellevue and Tacoma) is one of the largest metropolitan areas in the United States, currently ranked 12th out of 366 in annual GDP (2008 - U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis - 9/24/09) pdf)  U.S. census data shows that Seattle has the 2nd highest percentage of college graduates than any other major American city (> 50%), and is ranked as one of most literate cities in the nation (ranked second in 2008 - America's Most Literate Cities of 2008).  Seattle residents also like to have fun... the city ranked the 6th most walkable in the nation (Walk Score 2008);  #1 for bicycling in North America by Bicycling Magazine; # 1 for most wired/wi-fi locations (Forbes); the 2nd most fit city in the U.S. (American College of Sports Medicine); and, of course, is the "highest scoring city for cafes and coffee bars" according to Travelandliesure.com (which also ranks Seattle 5th for most fit in it's January 2010 issue).

The 2008 Men's Rowing team enjoy a sunny morning in the Cascades, less than an hour away from the UW campus

Seattle is one of the top recycling cities in the world, and was one of the first to embrace recycling as part of the city culture.  Seattle is ranked as the #1 environmentally friendly city in the nation (CityGrid: Large Cities | Smarter Cities), based on air quality, environmental standards, green space, and a host of other parameters.  The University of Washington itself has partnered with the community and is a leader in environmental policy on a local, national, and international level (University of Washington — NW Green Campus).  Seattle - slow to implement a regional transportation network in the 20th century - broke ground on a regional light rail system in 2003 that became operational July 18, 2009, with a full expansion to Sea-Tac International Airport completed December 19, 2009.

The city consistently receives high marks for quality of life and livablity.  Recent livability awards (#1 at the 2005 U.S. Mayor's Conference) focus on the leading environmental programs initiated by the city (with help from the UW).  But the city also boasts a thriving arts community, an urban center that is a throwback to the gold rush and timber town roots that shaped it (Pioneer Square), and a general populace that prefers being outdoors to indoors.  With the Cascade mountain range 45 minutes to the east, and the Olympic mountain range 2 hours to the west (includes a ferry ride across Puget Sound), the area is a recreational panacea.  Kayaking, swimming, mountain climbing, mountain biking, skiing... and of course, rowing(!)... are but some of the multitude of outdoor sports enjoyed by Seattle residents.

Mark Emmert

2007 Schaller Scholarship Award winners Corianne Bowman and Peter McCorkell

Mark Emmert, former University of Washington president (2004 - 2010), discussed the balance between academics and athletics at the university in an interview in 2008:

"Academic and athletic competitions also have much in common. They both take place in extremely competitive environments, and achievement in both requires supporting our people so that they can excel. Great universities draw together the best, most talented students and professors with the promise of providing an environment where they can perform at the highest levels, intellectually, artistically, athletically. Physics or football, the goal is the same.

Since college sports attract a disproportionate share of publicity and stir such strong emotions, it is critical that we leaders of universities make sure that our athletic programs are a reflection of the values of the university. Integrity, commitment, collegiality, merit, competitiveness: These must be the core values of the academy and the arena. When fans watch our teams play or listen to our coaches talk, these values should be clear for all to see. We must expect to compete successfully, and we must insist on doing so within the framework of our values.

The sense of fulfillment in reaching a goal to which you dedicate yourself is thrilling. To do so with teammates and colleagues working hard toward a common goal is even more thrilling. We aspire to have all our students develop the values and skills essential to reaching their goals." (1)

1) Read UW President Mark Emmert's 2008 comments on athletics and academics here - Perspective on Intercollegiate Sports | Seattle Times Newspaper

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