Event Recap: The Value of Alumni Advocacy

UW Impact held its second annual legislative preview event on January 7.  Alumni, students and higher education advocates gathered to hear legislators and UW leaders discuss the UW, the importance of advocacy and issues facing higher education this session.

This year’s event featured President Ana Mari Cauce, Husky legislators Rep. Tina Orwall, ’88, ’91 and Sen. Joe Fain ’03, in a conversation moderated by longtime UWAA volunteer Colleen Fukui-Sketchley, ’04.

Attendees heard a variety of opinions and topics related to the session and higher ed. President Cauce encouraged alumni to take an active role in helping to restore the funding the UW lost during the Great Recession. While Cauce can draw upon data gleaned during her long career at the UW to demonstrate why lawmakers should invest in the UW, she notes, “When alumni tell their stories, that’s more powerful than the data I can bring.”

In addition, she talked about the impressive growth of the UW Bothell and UW Tacoma campuses, which have helped expand access for Washington students. In fact, there are a record number of Washington student in this year’s first-year class. She cited the fact that two-thirds of Washington student who apply to the UW are offered admission, which is critical to the future of the Washington’s high-tech economy.

State lawmakers and UW alums Fain and Orwall continued the President’s discussion about the importance of the UW in our state. Both talked about how the UW propelled their careers, and helped steer them towards public service.

Fain mentioned the student debt that can cripple Washington students, and discussed the importance of fully funding Washington’s financial aid programs, such as the State Need Grant. Orwall echoed President Cauce and urged alumni to use their personal stories to make an impression on lawmakers: “Data creates good policy. Stories are what pass laws.”