Professor and Interim Dennis Hartmann
Professor and Interim Dean Dennis Hartmann.

Happy Autumn,

This time of year is always special. There’s a buzz in the air from the spinning up of autumn quarter and the academic year, students are returning and our beautiful campus shines with its fall colors under occasionally blue skies. This year feels particularly special as we return to in-person life together as a community here at the University of Washington. I was pleased to meet with many of the incoming graduate students to our academic units at the College of the Environment welcome event at the Fisheries Building and lawn. Their enthusiasm was evident, even behind all the masks, and their joy in being together to embark on the adventure of grad school reminded me of my own exciting first year of graduate studies.

Even though COVID kept us physically apart, our college has still been working hard to advance our collective priorities. Research, teaching, learning and all the behind-the-scenes work that supports the college continues in creative ways. Watching and participating from my vantage point as interim dean, I am impressed by and grateful for the excellent work that each of you has done. I will continue to support you and your efforts until Maya Tolstoy, the new dean of our college, arrives to take the reins in January. I am in contact with her regularly, and I can tell you she is excited to be here on campus, roll up her sleeves and join you all to support the fine work that you do.

In the meantime, one area where we continue to push forward is in our work to make the college a more welcoming and inclusive place for all people. We are in the midst of creating a task force to further conversations and actions around equity across our college. Our goal is to learn how the dean’s office can best serve our departments, schools and institutes in advancing their strategies around diversity, equity and inclusion. Together we will look for synergies and opportunities across units where we can amplify our work collectively. What we learn will directly inform the priorities for a new associate dean for DEI, a position for which we will soon start the recruitment process. Let us work together to become a college where equity and inclusion are hallmarks of our excellence in teaching, research and service to our community.

We are working with our college community on numerous other issues, and I will help lead many of those efforts as I serve as interim dean. As we move forward and come back together on campus, in the classroom and in our labs, I encourage everyone to be patient, kind and flexible with one another. These are unprecedented times, and we must care for ourselves and each other. With your help and support I will work to keep college-level efforts moving, support you and your work and prepare us for new leadership under Dean Tolstoy. Serving in this role is my honor, and I, like you, am eager to see what lies beyond the horizon.

Dennis Hartmann
Interim Dean, College of the Environment
Professor of Atmospheric Sciences
University of Washington