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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

October 27, 2014 at 8:08 PM

UW innovation: Don’t lose sight of academic goals by building new buildings

I applaud UW President Michael Young’s vision for the role of the University of Washington in a shining technological future [“How the University of Washington plans to lead Puget Sound innovation,” Opinion, Oct. 16].

However, the liability to which we are all subject, gazing consistently upward as we do, is that we tend to lose track of what our feet are doing, and we stumble. Is it the sin of pride that blinds us to the predicament of the disenfranchised — those who clean the floors and hallways of the temples, soldier on with substandard equipment in training labs critical to the momentum of progress and who can no longer afford to live in the same city where they work? Vast new buildings are useless shells without the talent to fill them and put them to greatest use. Investment in human infrastructure must not only precede, but also parallel the edifices of technology.

Here at the UW, these resources have been too long ignored, eclipsed by the establishment of new buildings, an opulent new stadium and an unstoppable swelling of highly paid administrative positions. Endless person-hours and public dollars have been wasted opposing employee unions, needlessly delaying negotiations that promise to foster increased cooperation and teamwork in lieu of infighting. Ironically, oppressive top-down policies are anathema to the very business model that gradually supplants the academic traditions of cooperation and social change so firmly founded in the grass roots of public education.

Peter E. Messinger, Extension Lecturer UW Education Outreach, Snohomish

Comments | More in Education | Topics: academics, education, Michael Young

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