In that first year, 126 students were enrolled and there were 13 founding faculty. The only degree offered at the time was a bachelor of arts in liberal studies.
Today, the university is a regional leader in higher education that combines the benefits of a small campus with the resources and prestige of a world-renowned university.
It boasts a state-of-the-art campus with extension locations in Mt. Vernon and Bellevue and currently has an enrollment of 2,801 students, along with 189 faculty members and a support staff of 230.
There are 38 different degree options that students can pursue in areas including everything from business and applied computing to environmental science, nursing and electrical engineering, as well as interdisciplinary studies with concentrations in such subjects as community psychology, society and human behavior and culture and literature and the arts ,among others.
"One of the university’s strengths is in its development of innovative academic programs that are related to real world problems and the economic needs of the community," says Chancellor Kenyon Chan. "Our curriculum emphasizes close student-faculty interaction, collaboration among students and hands-on learning opportunities."
He adds, "I’m very proud of the quality of programs we offer, as well as the quality of students we attract and their accomplishments, both while they are here and then later after they graduate."
The university has graduated over 8,000 students in its 20-year history. This year is especially noteworthy as it marks the graduation of the first freshman class at the school.
Twenty years ago, UW Bothell began as an upper-division and graduate institution, but this changed in 2006 when it welcomed its first group of lower-division students – 130 teens fresh out of high school.
One of those students, Sara Nausner, who came from Shorecrest High, wrote of her initial experience at the college: "I didn’t really know anyone coming to school here, but at our first event, the convocation, I met new friends right away and felt like I fit in. The classes are small and my teachers are always available and they really care about the relationship with the students. I value that. Plus, if I get stuck, the resources here to help you are tremendous and the people are terrific. We’re building a program and it’s very exciting to be a part of it here at UW Bothell."
Today, Nausner can hardly believe she’s a senior and soon off to make her own way in the world. She has enjoyed her experience at the school and has been involved in many activities on campus, including serving as ASUWB director of public relations and volunteering 900 plus hours with the AmeriCorps Students in Service Program, as well as helping to host numerous campus events. She says, "I feel like I have grown with UW Bothell and I am both happy to graduate and sad that I’ll be leaving such a great community."
Alan Li, also a senior, liked the idea of being a UW Bothell "pioneer" and having the opportunity to make a difference.
Today he writes: "It’s been a tremendous four years at Bothell. I guess what I can say now as a senior reflecting on my college experience is that I got everything I’d hoped for and more at UW Bothell. The open doors –faculty and staff here have provided me opportunities in pursuing my entrepreneurship career goals, fulfillment in social, sports and student life, as well as provided the place for me to make some lifelong friendships. Year by year, it seems that the university is growing and changing at such a rapid pace. It’s this symbiotic relationship that we as students have on campus that makes it possible for really radical and exponential personal growth in all of our dimensions. I really love this place and I feel like my friends and I will leave here with more than an adequate arsenal of tools for us to make our mark on the world."
The future is rosy for UW Bothell. According to Chancellor Chan, the institution is "growing like crazy" and in the next decade he predicts that student enrollment will increase to 5,000.
There will be additional facilities built, with more room for student housing, and a host of new degree programs will be offered in such fields as biological science, climate science and policy, interactive media and technology, integrated sciences and creative writing and cultural poetics.
"With all of our growth and development, our campus is abuzz," says Chan. "If you haven’t been to visit in awhile, now is the time. I invite you to share in our celebration, relish in our accomplishments and help us plan for the future. We look forward to 20 more years of great accomplishments and service as your regional leader in higher education."