Thank you, Colleen: An interview with departing UWAA President Colleen Fukui-Sketchley

Recently former UWAA President Colleen Fukui-Sketchley sat down with UW Impact intern Kiana Scott to reflect on UW Impact’s inaugural year, accomplishments, and hopes for the future.

KS: As you look back on your term of service as University of Washington Alumni Association Board President, what is your proudest accomplishment?

CFS: While I am proud of the many things we have accomplished over the last year, I am particularly proud of the launch of UW Impact.  The Board of Trustees should be proud of the collaboration, engagement and success that lead to measurable results in support of the UW and higher education in our state.

KS: Recently, you attended Governor Gregoire’s signing of H.B. 1795, granting tuition setting rights to the UW Board of Regents.  Can you describe what was going through your head as this bill became a law?

CFS: I was proud to witness such a ground-breaking bill get signed into law.  This is an unprecedented time in UW’s history and it requires unprecedented measures.  While all of the four-year universities will have tuition setting authority for the next four years, this will give the UW the gift of time…time to build a sustainable financial model that will support the students and programming without compromising quality.

KS: In the six months since UW Impact was founded, countless alumni have contacted their legislators via phone, email and letter, and attended meetings and town halls to discuss the critical issue of maintaining funding to the University.  What can you tell these alumni?

CFS: The two thinks I can tell them are YOU made a difference and THANK YOU!  We have been told that our legislators heard from thousands of alumni and friends of the UW and that we really made an impact in this past legislative session.  There is power in numbers and we are so grateful our passionate alumni accepted the call to action and have joined others in UW Impact’s advocacy efforts.

KS: There are many issues of critical importance today: the economy, jobs, health care, etc.  Why is supporting the University of Washington so critical?

CFS: The success of the UW goes hand in hand with the success of our state.  All throughout our history, this has remained to be true.  There is no better return on investment than investing in higher education.  Over 70% of our graduates stay int he state of Washington.  They work here, they contributed to our economy, they raise their children and grandchildren here.  We are lucky to have a state that can rely on its universities to drive the state’s economy.  The lack of investments that we’ve seen over the years is troubling and what we’ve come to realize is that it is communicating the stories of our alumni that will be invaluable to moving legislators to support the UW and higher education in our state.  It is critical that friends, family and alumni of the UW join us in our efforts to support the University that we care about so deeply.

KS:  What are you hoping UW Impact and UW alumni accomplish next year?

CFS: In the coming year we hope to have advocates, our “District Dawgs”, in all 49 legislative districts in Washington.  The ultimate goal for next year is to have dedicated alumni on the ground who have the ability to mobilize other alumni and friends of the UW in an organized advocacy effort to support the UW and higher education.  We will strive to make an exponential impact on the next legislative session utilizing our dedicated UW Impact supporters.  I am so incredibly proud to have served as President and the Alumni Association this past year and will look forward to remaining a strong advocate for UW Impact.