Community – UW Graduate School Skip to content

New Title IX Regulations effective August 14, 2020

Title IX, Title VII, VAWA, Washington state law, and University of Washington policy collectively prohibit discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender expression, pregnant or parenting status, and LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) identity.

Anyone may contact the Office of the Title IX Coordinator about sex and gender discrimination, including sexual or gender-based harassment, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and other forms of sexual misconduct. Anyone who has experienced these behaviors has the right to make a complaint to the University, report to the police, to both, or not at all.

Please see the Title IX website to learn more about how to report or make a formal complaint of sex discrimination, sexual harassment, or other sexual misconduct. You will also find information about supportive measures and the grievance procedures that are utilized for complaints of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct. Students and employees have access to support measures and resources, whether or not they choose to make a complaint.

Lecture library

Video Lectures

Morris Dees: Responding to Hate: Voices of Hope and Tolerance

After witnessing firsthand the painful consequences of
prejudice and racial injustice, Morris Dees co-founded the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) in 1971 — a nonprofit organization specializing in lawsuits involving civil rights violations and racially motivated crimes. In this talk,
Dees discusses his book, “Gathering Storm: America’s Militia Threat,” and offers strategies to combat domestic terrorism. This lecture was originally presented on January 23, 2001.

Vandana Shiva: Ahimsa: Beyond Violent Traditions of Science and Technology

Vandana Shiva advocates an approach that is based on the principle of ahimsa – meaning non-violence or harmlessness, drawing on the ethics of ecological and feminist thought that promotes diversity and pluralism in knowledge, action, nature and culture. Shiva is a world-renowned environmental thinker and activist. In 1991, she founded Navdanya, a national movement to protect diversity and integrity of living resources. Navdanya sets up community seed banks, supports conversion to organic agriculture, and is establishing direct producer-consumer links for food security and safety. This lecture was originally presented on April 17, 2001.

Audio Lectures

Julie Lythcott-Haims is the author of the New York Times best-selling book How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success (2015) and Real American: A Memoir (2017). She is deeply interested in what prevents people from living meaningful, fulfilling lives.

News correspondent and journalist Maria Hinojosa has spent decades reporting on immigration and the treatment of immigrants – both documented and undocumented – by law enforcement organizations. In this lecture, she will give powerful witness to the routine denial of due process to immigrants and its effect on our broader society. This lecture was originally presented on November 1, 2017.

Data can be a powerful tool for fighting systemic racism and police violence. In this lecture, Sam Sinyangwe will present strategies for using data to support organizing campaigns focused on equity and justice in the United States.

Many look to “the school” as the great equalizer, a meritocracy where equal opportunity is realized. For communities of color, this is often far from the truth. Throughout history, each time communities of color have made progress toward equal educational opportunity, a major societal pushback has caused the loss of gains that appeared won. In this talk, Joy Williamson-Lott looks to history to show how we can work toward real progress. This lecture was originally presented on February 15, 2017.

Postdocs, we are in this together.

As we have entered the virtual Spring Quarter, it is important to acknowledge that this is an unprecedented time for all of us, especially you, postdocs, given how our world has changed dramatically in the face of COVID-19. We are advised by the governor to stay home and stay healthy, but we need adaptation and reconfiguration to continue playing the roles of effective researcher, trainee, and teacher in academia. At the same time, these changes have impacted how we normally operate and make plans, which could result in additional stress and anxiety. Please trust that you are not alone if you are experiencing feelings of isolation, job and financial insecurity, the stress of balancing work and family, and general information overload. Here, we offer some strategies in the hope of supporting you during these challenging times. 

Adjust and adapt. When the normal daily routine gets disrupted, we can take some time to plan for a new routine. Daily, most of us are used to going to the lab, commuting to the office, or meeting friends and colleagues for coffee or lunch. Now, we are working from home, reducing the time outside to a minimum, setting new expectations with PIs, and making new plans for research progress. Most likely, we also need to attend to the family’s needs in the midst of finding a new healthy ‘work-life continuum.’ This is overwhelming, but now, you must adapt. Remember, focus on the things you can control. There are things FOR EVERYONE that you can’t control or predict. It is normal to fear for the unknown and get stuck with negative feelings. The truth is, everyone is worried about similar things to you; for example, falling behind in your previously planned research schedule and being not as productive as expected. Please make new plans, carve out work hours, and separate designated workspace from personal space, if possible. Check out the guidance from the UW Office of Research on mitigating the impact to research during this time. Most importantly, be flexible – with yourself and others. Everyone is doing the best they can. 

Take care of yourself. It seems the world has stopped functioning when every trip we take has to be “essential” to our lives. Without being overwhelmed by what we can’t do, think of all the things we can do and enjoy: Taking a nap, reading a book for fun, going for a walk, trying out a new recipe, practicing yoga and meditation, setting up a karaoke station, zoom/Facetime with family and friends, cleaning and organizing. Now can be a great time for reflection, re-assessment, and reorientation – things that should be done regularly but often aren’t prioritized in our regular workdays. Please be mindful of your feelings; ask yourself: am I feeling disappointed, overwhelmed, sad, or worried? Recognize these feelings, and don’t judge them. Check out some ways to help you mitigate the impact of stress and 21 self-care resources

Stay connected. Please take our advice to remain physically distanced, but socially close. You are not alone during this time. Stay connected with your family, friends, colleagues, university offices, professional societies, and groups on social media. If you are experiencing information overload on social media, take a break from your electronic device. There are national resources you can reach out to, such as the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline – 1-800-662-HELP(4357) and teletherapy through HIPAA compliant means. We, your UW postdoctoral community, are here to support you through online channels: reach out to the OPAUWPA, and PDA whenever you need it. 

At the OPA, we recognize this is a challenging time, but also one for new opportunities. We are working diligently to continue providing professional development opportunities via online format to our postdocs. As we work together, please reach out to us if we can be of support and assistance. 

Additional resources: 

Operational Guidance in Response to COVID-19

Members of the UW Graduate and Postdoctoral community,

By now, you have seen messages from campus leadership announcing that campus operations will continue in a modified, on-line environment throughout the entire Spring 2020 quarter.

As graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, this experience is a little distinctive. And, depending on where you are in your academic progression or the type of program you’re enrolled in, this new learning environment may look a little different.

Most importantly, we encourage to you consult with your mentors, research directors, and program directors to determine how each program is adapting in this new environment. UW is maintaining and updating a FAQ page with the most current information. In addition, please reference Mitigating Impacts to Research Activities from the Office of Research for updates on our research operations.

Specific guidance for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows:

1. We encourage research group leaders to make the best decisions for all members of the research group. Your health and safety is our first priority. And, please do not travel to research spaces if you are sick.

2. We encourage regularly (at least weekly) scheduled opportunities for the research group to connect (via Zoom/Microsoft Teams/etc.) where expectations and concerns are shared constructively and compassionately.

3. At this time, research at UW is open and allowed as long as proper social distancing practices are implemented, so it is possible to carry out research, attending to continuing and longitudinal experiments and producing new data during this unprecedented national emergency.

However, in this emergency situation, productivity may look different than it did last month, and remote work continues to be encouraged if at all feasible. As mentioned in #2, it is acceptable and expected that managing expectations will be necessary as everyone evolves into the ‘new normal’ environment.

4. In a message from Vice President for Research Mary Lindstrom, PIs have been instructed to encourage remote work wherever possible — this goes for graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, as well as research staff. Importantly, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows should not feel obligated to take on additional on-site work simply because they are likely to have fewer out-of-work responsibilities than senior research group members.

5. If graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and research staff are responsible for essential laboratory operations, then they should maintain access to the research space for these activities. However, once these essential activities are accomplished — again, practicing proper social distancing — they should be encouraged to return to their remote workspace.

6. No graduate student or postdoctoral fellow should be required to enter the research space if they do not feel safe in doing so. Simply share your concerns with your PI/research advisor — they have been encouraged to be flexible and as supportive as possible.

7. If you are required to travel to campus but normally rely on public transportation, the UW has opened parking at the E01 or E18 parking lots (UW main campus) and the 850 Republican Street garage (UW SLU campus) and will not ticket parkers there, as we mitigate our response to COVID-19. We encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

8. When working remotely, graduate students and postdoctoral fellows are encouraged to perform appropriate activities with their original appointment (e.g., analyzing data, writing manuscripts, progress reports, and their thesis, preparing for a General Exam or final dissertation defense, etc.) unless you have been reassigned to an alternative appointment by your department or PI. Additional work may be assigned by the PI/research group leader. While the location of the work has changed, these activities should all be in support of your original appointment and/or fellowship, and as such, there is no expectation of additional compensation.

9. We encourage international postdocs to be in contact with both the Academic HR and their home country for guidance, as the situation evolves.

10. We encourage programs, faculty, and research directors to make the most appropriate and informed decisions possible to support graduate students and postdoctoral fellows; the Graduate School, Core Programs (, and the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs ( are ready to consult as necessary.

We hope you will all help each other as we navigate this difficult, and rapidly evolving, situation. UW is a strong community, and together we will get through this.


Bill Mahoney, Ph.D.
Associate Dean of Student and Postdoctoral Affairs
UW Graduate School

Welcome All Graduate Students

Welcome all new and returning graduate students across the University of Washington tri-campus! You bring rich and unique experiences to the university, whether you have recently moved to Washington state from another part of the U.S. or the world, have just completed an internship, fieldwork, a fellowship, or are further along in your capstone or research project. And your lives are not just about your studies or putting in lab or teaching hours—many of you also have families and strong connections with your communities, work off and on campus, and enjoy varied hobbies and interests. You are all a vital part of the university ecosystem. As you enter the new quarter, consider the following strategies to help you get started on the right foot.

What you’re feeling is normal. Graduate school can bring up feelings of excitement, anxiety, fear, or homesickness. You are definitely not alone in this, as many of your peers have experienced similar feelings. Academia can also make you feel like you are not smart enough or capable enough (aka imposter syndrome). This is simply not true. Whenever you’re in doubt, remember that you do belong at the University of Washington. You are in graduate school to enhance or change your career, provide for your family, or make important contributions to your discipline or industry. 

Find your people. Graduate school can open up positive opportunities for your intellectual, professional, and interpersonal growth, yet it can also be challenging, stressful and isolating at times. With this in mind, we encourage you to seek out ways to connect with peers in a variety of settings. Network with peers at departmental and campus events. Join or start a local meetup group based on shared interests and connect with peers on the UW Graduate Students facebook page. Consider co-organizing a potluck with members of your cohort—you end up saving money and food always brings people together.

Take it one step at a time. For the past few weeks, you have participated in orientations, received lots of information about student resources and program requirements—and if you’re new to the Puget Sound region—navigated finding a place to live, while managing any number of daily living errands. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, pause for a moment to take a few deep breaths. Get in the habit of reminding yourself that it’s neither sustainable nor realistic to do it all right now. To organize your days and weeks, use a time management tool such as a paper planner, app, or online calendar. Break down big projects into smaller, more manageable tasks. And remember to reward yourself when you finish a task.

We hope you find these tips useful, and let us know what has worked for you!

Best Regards,

Core Programs—Office of Graduate Student Affairs

The Graduate School

Michelle (Mimi) Acosta, Ph.D.

Department of Psychology, 1980-1989

Every year in the Department of Psychology, there was one graduate student of color who was charged with supporting students of color within the program. This official departmental position was funded by a fellowship from GO-MAP*. I was one of the graduate students who held this position in the 1980’s. 

The support position and resulting community were extremely effective. Students of color in our department never felt like that they were on their own. The tight community of students of color smoothed new ethnic students’ entry into graduate school and the field of psychology.  There were always more advanced students ready to answer questions and provide direction and encouragement to incoming and intermediate-level students. The willingness of more advanced students to advise, inform and socialize with new and mid-level students was a stepping stone to success for so many of us. This position and organization stewarded a network of students of color who became role models for others in navigating academics and finishing our degrees. I am grateful for all the students of color who shared their strengths and encouraged us, teaching us to pass on this legacy of support. 

Among its responsibilities, this network of students of color was also involved in the admissions process, reviewing files of prospective students of color. We provided input to faculty on the department admissions committee. The group of students of color active in the mid-80’s also played a small role in bringing Dr. Ana Mari Cauce (now UW president) to the Department of Psychology as faculty. We were lucky enough to meet and dine with Dr. Cauce when she came to the UW for her initial interviews. I remember my initial impression of Dr. Cause as highly intelligent and quick-witted, with an infectious laugh.

After I graduated, I served as faculty in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, focused on child assessment in the clinic now known as the Center on Human Development and Disability. I also worked in private practice for a number of years, and taught briefly at Antioch University in the master of psychology program.

On a personal note, after joining the Department of Psychology, Dr. Cauce kindly stepped in to take over as my dissertation advisor when my original professor departed. At the end of my dissertation defense, I informed Ana that I would be skipping graduation and would just pick up my diploma from the Registrar. Ana looked at me, and said she understood why I would feel that way, but insisted skipping graduation was something I would regret later. She mentioned that she had not put on doctoral robes for her own graduation, and then made me an offer. Ana said that if I decided to go through graduation, she would also march in her doctoral robes with the faculty. This was something we could celebrate together. I still appreciate the kindness of her awareness and assistance.

*This story is part of a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of GO-MAP, now known as GSEE. Learn more.

Jason Wooden, Ph.D.

Department of Genetics, 1996

Wooden works in the Seattle area and is a full-time entrepreneur, with a number of projects in health and biomedical sciences. Wooden recalls how GO-MAP* functions helped him get out of the lab and make connections across disciplines. 

Graduate school can be very arduous for people. It can be a long road, with a lot of ups and downs.

Cynthia and the others in the GO-MAP office were always there to support you if there was an issue you were dealing with. I remember when I received my funding both from the Ford Foundation or the UNCS Burke Science Initiative, GO-MAP did all this work behind the scenes to make things as seamless as possible. That way, I could focus on my research and not the paperwork. 

GO-MAP had some really good functions where they would invite all of the minority graduate students. At that time, in my department I was the only person of color. So it was a great way to meet all of the other graduate students of color who you normally wouldn’t see because you were all scattered. 

At these receptions we’d hang out, make friends, and have conversations if there were issues people were struggling with. There, students from very different disciplines were able to connect as we’re going through our graduate school experience and encourage each other through our everyday struggles. 

Sometimes there would be very deep discussions about topics outside of school. I still remember this conversation I had with someone from Astronomy about their disciplines and practices in their discipline versus Genetics. That’s one conversation you remember forever. 

We would exchange information and some of us would go out and do things after those events. People would reach out and say, hey I’m hosting a party, or we’re going out to this place, and you should come along. It was good to get you out of the books or your lab. To add some fun to the mix and help you stay grounded. 

I would always look forward to those receptions – to seeing Cynthia Morales and other UW administrators. Some of those friendships I made at GO-MAP receptions, I still have to this day. 

*This story is part of a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of GO-MAP, now known as GSEE. Learn more.

Tyrone Caldwell Howard, Ph.D.

College of Education, 1998

Dr. Howard came to the UW after teaching in elementary school classrooms in Compton, California. Advised by Professor James Banks (the “Father of Multicultural Education), Howard studied multicultural education, academic achievement among African Americans, and equity in the classroom. Howard has continued onto an impressive career as a professor of education at University of California – Los Angeles, where he continues to study race and equity in K-12 education. At UCLA, Howard is the former associate dean of the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies and the founder and executive director of the Black Male Institute. He is frequently asked to present his work across the country and globe. In 2019, Howard was honored with the College of Education’s 2019 Distinguished Graduate Award. We spoke with Howard about how GO-MAP* (then known as the Minority Education Division) enhanced his graduate school experience at the UW, and the program’s lasting influence on his career. 

For me, the Minority Education Division was about family and about community as well as financial support. From a financial standpoint, I was what might be called now a non-traditional student. I had a wife and two kids when I started my graduate degree. 

I had funding through the School of Education but it was not enough. I didn’t want to work three, four or five jobs outside of the UW to make ends meet. So I would go to Cynthia and talk to her about the financial challenges we were facing, and Cynthia would find something. MED was a huge financial support in ways I could not have envisioned when I started graduate school. 

At one point I approached Cynthia because it was a real tight squeeze for my family and I to make ends meet. I was really hesitating to talk to her, because I didn’t know what she would say. Before I met with her, I put together five talking points on the subject. I planned points and counterpoints; I had all these things prepared to say if she said no. 

I went in nervous to our meeting, prepared to hear no. As you probably know, Cynthia has such a calm demeanor. As soon as I brought up my first point, she said yes. She said, I’ll make it happen, and she made it seem like it was so easy. 

That conversation was life changing. It was so important to know that she got it and she made it happen. All the talking points I had prepared, I didn’t have to go through because she was so responsive. 

When I was looking at graduate programs and I visited the UW, there was a group of master’s students in the College of Education who were incredibly helpful. Patricia Halagao, Cynthia Denning Del Rosario, Jim Rodriguez, and Andre Branch. They said, there’s a space for people of color here at the UW. They told me it was a good place to consider because my work – on racial and ethnic diversity in the classroom – would be supported here. It meant a lot to hear current graduate students say that they felt supported on campus. 

As a graduate student, you recognize that the school – for me, both the College of Education and the UW – were predominantly white. If you didn’t find a community of like-minded people, you could feel very isolated and very disconnected. As a person of color, you have to create your own community within the larger community by finding pockets of people who share the same experiences as you. 

MED provided a space where I saw other students of color. With MED students, I didn’t feel like I was alone, and I had people who could relate to being the only or one of the few people of color in their programs. 

What was helpful for me was to come into graduate school with a small group of people who were part of the Office of Minority Recruitment and Retention. That became my community. The folks I worked with in my department knew about the Minority Education Division, Mosaic and other organizations to plug into to find community, so they helped me seek out those opportunities. 

It worked for me, but if you didn’t know how to find that community, you would be on the outside looking in. Now there are more intentional steps and approaches so incoming students of color can be introduced to these units and plugged into communities of color, if they desire to be. 

My involvement with MED has been huge for my career. As a grad student, it was good to be in a place where people helped you to sharpen your ideas and pushed you – always with kindness – to sharpen your methods.

When you’re a graduate student, you’re insecure as a scholar. For me, having people who were part of the UW community who supported my ideas – conceptually and intellectually – allowed me to recognize the importance of my work. Professors such as Jim Banks, Gevena Gay, and Ed Taylor were invaluable and incredibly supportive.

A lot of the work I do now is still tied to equity and inclusion. I wouldn’t be doing this work if I hadn’t had the support I had at the UW. This support let me know that my work matters to the community. I’m forever indebted to the community because of that. 

I hope the university does all it can do to support efforts like GO-MAP. Universities say they value diversity and want it on campus but often offices like GO-MAP are on tight budgets and not receiving the support and recognition they deserve. Initiatives like GO-MAP are often the heartbeats of diversity, the backbone of inclusion and places where students of color can truly feel supported and comfortable. And we should support them accordingly. 

*This story is part of a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of GO-MAP, now known as GSEE. Learn more.

Audra Gray-Dowdy, M.Ed., Ph.D.

College of Education
M.Ed. – 1999
Ph.D. – 2011

As a student, Audra Gray-Dowdy formed an informal network of peers of color to help her navigate graduate school. GO-MAP* helped to formalize these networks and expand their reach beyond her department. 

Through conversations in the GO-MAP office and GO-MAP social events, Gray-Dowdy made connections that showed her “people who look like me do this and finish this process, and I can, too.”

“We really got to know each other well through GO-MAP,” she adds. “There were a lot of real, authentic friendships that came out of GO-MAP and grew from there.” 

For Gray-Dowdy, it was significant that the Graduate School encourages students to build community. When she was a student, and now as an alumni, “I can walk into the Grad School and it’s not like I’m walking into a business office that’s inaccessible to me,” she says. “GO-MAP made the Graduate School feel like home, made me feel like I belonged. Sure it’s a business office but it’s a place where people are welcoming and personable – what other universities have that?” 

After Gray-Dowdy graduated with her master’s, she taught fifth grade in the Compton Unified District in California for several years. When she returned to UW for her Ph.D., she reconnected with the GO-MAP family.

Inspired by the networks of support they received from GO-MAP, Gray-Dowdy and several women of color in Education established a thesis and dissertation writing group. The members met regularly to talk about their research. They helped to hold each other accountable, while also receiving feedback on their research. 

As a Ph.D. student, Gray-Dowdy approached Cynthia Morales (then assistant director) when she was seeking funding or new opportunities. “Just to have her accept me, hear me out, and tell me she would keep her eyes and ears open – it was very comforting to know that,” Gray-Dowdy says. If I hadn’t known her as a grad student, I would have been struggling,” she adds. 

At one point, Gray-Dowdy approached Cynthia because her graduate appointment did not run through the summer and she was seeking work. She earned an appointment to work for GO-MAP during the summer, providing her funding for the summer months. 

As a Graduate Staff Assistant in the summer of ‘00, Gray-Dowdy played an important role in organizing the first Getting Connected – an annual fall event to help graduate students of color meet. She worked alongside Johnella Butler (then director) and Morales to help with the planning for the event. She created brochures and helped put together the event, including choosing the location and ordering the food, 

“I feel a sense of honor when Cynthia says I was part of helping to create Getting Connected, even though its an overstatement,” Gray-Dowdy says. 

Gray-Dowdy contributed to the GO-MAP community in other ways, as well – by mentoring new students of color through the Diversity Ambassadors program.

“I wanted to give all the wisdom I had earned back to people,” she says, adding that “any time GO-MAP asked myself or my peers to contribute, the answer was always yes because we knew connecting students of color to GO-MAP would be a lifesaver for (those students). We didn’t need to be convinced, because we already felt the love from GO-MAP.” 

It’s true, though, that GO-MAP wasn’t just about spreading love. “The goal was for us students of color to get our degrees in a way that still feeds our souls,” Gray-Dowdy says. “This might look like working in communities that are unnoticed, communities we represent, and doing work we feel passionate about. As a student, you feel really feel that GO-MAP is investing in you because they know you’re going to take your degrees and make an impact in your field, and make an impact in your community.” 

After walking with her Ph.D. in 2011, Gray-Dowdy joined the faculty at East Tennessee State University. She is now the Dean of Students at Federal Way Public Schools.

*This story is part of a series celebrating the 50th anniversary of GO-MAP, now known as GSEE. Learn more.