Ten years ago – on October 9th 2003 – we dedicated the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering.
Designed by LMN Architects, the Allen Center – still widely regarded as the finest computer science facility in the nation – has had a dramatic impact on UW CSE’s competitiveness, allowing us to move forward into the 21st century as one of the nation’s leading computer science and computer engineering programs:
- State-of-the-art laboratory space has changed the nature of our research. Annual research expenditures have tripled – from $7 million in the year prior to occupancy, to more than $20 million today. (Faculty increased by only 24% during this period – from 38 to 47.) The number of technical staff supporting research has more than doubled – from 23 to 58. We had only 2 postdoctoral research fellows in 2003 – we have 27 today. Interdisciplinary collaborations have flourished, reflecting the broad impact of the field in the modern university and the modern world.
- Enrollments have increased, providing greater opportunity for Washington State students and driving the state’s technology industry. The pace has been slower than we would have liked – state support is required to increase enrollment, since tuition falls far short of covering costs. But in the past decade, undergraduate majors have increased from 430 to 650 (+50%); full-time graduate program majors from 142 to 222 (+55%); part-time professional masters program majors from 120 to 160 (+33%); and annual enrollment in our two introductory courses from 2,000 to 3,600 (+80%). Additional growth has recently been funded.
More than 200 friends and alumni donated a total in excess of $40 million to make the Allen Center a reality. We are grateful to Paul G. Allen, our lead donor; to Tom Alberg and Jeremy Jaech, the co-chairs of our development committee; to Bill & Melinda Gates and to Microsoft for gifts in excess of $5 million; and, indeed, to each and every donor, because each and every gift was essential. As we said at the time, we didn’t know 40 people who could provide $1 million each, and we didn’t know 40,000 people who could provide $1,000 each!
This extraordinary generosity continued after the completion of the Allen Center. In 2003, our departmental endowment (which supports faculty, graduate students, undergraduate students, and innovation across-the-board) totaled less than $6 million; today it is in excess of $40 million! Most recently, Jeff Bezos and Amazon.com provided two $1 million Amazon Professorships in Machine Learning to assist us in recruiting machine learning stars Emily Fox and Carlos Guestrin.
Today, the Allen Center is overflowing, and we are launching a new project to expand our space. Leadership in computer science is increasingly essential to the University of Washington’s broad-based competitiveness, to the vitality of our region, and to our nation’s ability to address its challenges and seize its opportunities. UW CSE remains committed to excellence and impact. “If it was just hot air, we’d still be in Sieg Hall.”