The University of Washington Board of Regents selected Ana Mari Cauce to be its new president. Cauce, who had been serving as interim president since February, is the university’s first Latina to be chosen for the top job, and the first woman appointed to the position permanently.
“I think the importance of being a role model is not at all trivial,” she told reporters Tuesday afternoon. “And I’m very proud that there might be students in the audience today or at my talk tomorrow that can see themselves going to places that quite frankly never occurred to me in my wildest dream that I would go. At that level, I’m very honored and humbled to be in that position.”
Cauce, 59, was born in Cuba where her father was the minister of education. Her family came to the United States after the revolution. She has had a 30-year career at UW, starting as an assistant professor in psychology and has held many leadership positions, including chair of American ethnic studies, director of the honors program and executive vice provost.
The selection of Cauce also bucked the UW’s pattern of bringing in newcomers to take on the head role.
Cauce, a professor of psychology and American ethnic studies, said she intends to keep teaching classes.
Cauce became interim president in February, after president Michael K. Young took a job at Texas AM University. Cauce was the second woman named interim president in the UW’s history, following the 2010-11 tenure of Phyllis Wise (who was also the UW’s first Asian American appointed to position).
The same month that Cauce took the interim job, students and staff walked out in support of Black Lives Matter. She talked with a Globalist reporter during the walkout about her support for the movement.
Recent events “make it very clear that things are not okay, and we have a long way to go,” she told the Globalist in February. “Education and access to higher education is part of where we need to go and [bring] the kind of visibility… to the kinds of issues that are still out there, so I am very supportive.”
Two months later, she announced a project to combat racism and inequity at the university’s longhouse and spoke frankly about her experiences with prejudice as a Latina and a gay woman, according to an account in the Seattle Times.