Founding Dean Tayloe Washburn announces exit, reflects on 4 years

Founding Dean Tayloe Washburn announces exit, reflects on 4 years

Dean Tayloe Washburn announced today that he will be stepping down as Founding Dean of Northeastern University – Seattle at the end of the year. He reflects on what the past four years have meant to him in a letter to students and faculty.

In the coming months, Northeastern will conduct a nationwide search for a new Dean for the Seattle campus to build on the foundation now in place and take our campus and the student experience to new levels.

We thank you Tayloe for your enterprising spirit and rousing games of ping pong these past four years.

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Dear students and faculty of Northeastern-Seattle,

I am writing at the end of this amazing week (President Xi comes to town and Kam Chancellor returns to Seahawks) to give you a brief personal update.

Four years ago, I was a lawyer in Seattle, when Northeastern approached me and asked me if I wanted to lead the start-up of a new graduate campus here in Seattle in South Lake Union, the hub of our big data/cloud/biotech community. I was asked to serve as Founding Dean, build a team, and over time develop a core of graduate students and establish Northeastern as a thought leader and known member of our community. This was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity for me, and I said yes! I got to work immediately and have enjoyed every day in this role, including more than a few games of ping pong and sailed a great deal (27 times this season alone, and counting).

Now, four years later, I have pretty much accomplished the task I was asked to take on. We have close to 400 students, have expanded to three great campus facilities, and have firmly established Northeastern as a convener and civic catalyst in many fields, including increasing diversity in tech companies, reducing the income inequality gap in this region, and thinking up new ways to keep middle school age girls excited about STEM. Given this, I have decided the end of this calendar year is a good time for me to step aside, and hand the duties of CEO and Dean of this campus to a successor, who will build on what we have accomplished and take our campus and the student experience to new levels.

I will not be going far, as I will remain a consultant to the new Dean and Seattle team for some time, to ensure a smooth transition, and provide whatever support I can as the campus moves forward. I will be more available to take each of you on in ping pong, take you sailing, and provide informal career counseling as you move through your time at Northeastern and beyond. In the coming months we will conduct a nationwide search and settle on the new Dean for our campus, who will build on the foundation now in place.

As I reflect on what we have accomplished, I am most proud of the campus staff and faculty we have in place now, who will continue to serve you in coming months and years. Gina Takasugi has really grown in her role as Student Service Director, with key help from Ana Korsmo, Gulbin Yasar, and Anne Maria Jacobson. Dr. Paula Boyum is fully engaged making sure the delivery of academic services is as excellent as we can make it, and is also listening to student input for new classes and degree programs. Talk to Paula if you have any questions or comments on how we deliver our academic programs here in Seattle. Additionally, Paco Mesch, our resident expert on Co-op training and placement, Laura Iwane, a very effective resource on visa questions and other services for our international students, and our man on the phones, David Van der Linden, are here to help answer your questions and enhance your Northeastern experience.

We also have a new addition to the Seattle team in Mary Trimarco, our Business Development Officer. Mary is very experienced in working with companies, and her task will be to develop over time broad ties with key companies in this area. Her work will give students greater exposure to these companies to learn what they do, possibly meet with company representatives, and consider them as potential locations for co-op and/or full-time positions. The fulltime and adjunct faculty we have been fortunate enough to include in our academic programs are a unique resource for our students, and I appreciate the work they do.

Feel free to drop by my office at any time the next three months, to pose any questions you may have, and share your thoughts on the Seattle campus and ways we can improve your experience. What I enjoy the most about our Seattle campus, besides our students, is our ability to try out new approaches and innovation in the higher education area and if they work take them to scale. Our ALIGN Program we piloted here is a great example. All we do is focused on trying to provide the best possible campus and academic experience for our students, because you are why we are here!

Have a good weekend,
Tayloe Washburn


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