Institutional Profile

Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is a public university enrolling some 48,000 students and awarding approximately 10,000 degrees annually (see Exhibit 9.4). The institution also serves approximately 47,000 extension students. There are nearly 650 student athletes in UW's 21 Division I men's and women's teams. There is a faculty/staff of over 40,000, making UW the third-largest employer in the state of Washington. The university is comprised of three campuses with 17 major schools and colleges and 13 registered operations abroad. It has a $5.3 billion annual budget, with $1.3 billion in externally funded research and $2.6 billion in clinical medical enterprise. UW has been the top public university in federal research funding every year since 1974 and has been among the top five universities, public and private, in federal funding since 1969. The university has an annual $9.0 billion economic impact on the state of Washington.

Culture at UW

When appointed to serve on the President's Advisory Committee on ERM (PACERM) in 2007, Professor Daniel Luchtel commented, in the context of talking about risk assessments, that "the number of issues and their complexity is stunning. The analogy that comes to mind is trying to get a drink of water from a fire hose" (2007 ERM Annual Report, p. 4). As with most higher education institutions, especially research universities, along with the core business of the teaching and learning of undergraduate and graduate students, the faculty are focused on the creation of new knowledge. "The University of Washington is a decentralized yet collaborative entity with an energetic, entrepreneurial culture. The community members are committed to rigor, integrity, innovation, collegiality, inclusiveness, and connectedness" (Collaborative Enterprise Risk Management Final Report 2006, p. v).

Faculty innovation and the idea of compliance don't always go hand in hand in higher education, and UW is no exception. Research associate professor David Lovell, vice-chair of the Faculty Senate in 2007-2008, expresses it well:

"Compliance" [is] not necessarily a good word for faculty members… What lies behind [that] is the high value faculty accord to personal autonomy… The notion of a culture of compliance sounds like yet another extension of impersonal, corporate control, shrinking the arena of self-expression in favor of discipline and conformity… Over the last ten months, I've come to understand that you're not here to get in our way, but to make it possible for us faculty legally to conduct the work we came here to do... I hope that working together, we can try to spread such understanding further, so that we can make compliance – or whatever term you choose – less threatening to faculty and frustrating to staff. (Annual ERM Report 2008, pp. 6-7)

University of Washington Student Profile

Exhibit 9.4 University of Washington Student Profile

From University of Washington Fact Book:

Organizationally, the institution is divided into silos, which has historically focused risk mitigation within those silos.

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