"We are UWTacoma" storytelling

August 9, 2019

“If one thing is constant at UW Tacoma, it is change…”

Kim Davenport, a part-time lecturer at UW Tacoma in Culture, Arts and Communication–a division of the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences–recently filled out an online writing prompt as part of our storytelling project. Below is the story she shared in response to the question:

If you could tell one story about your time here at UWT, what would it be?

“I have been a part of the UWT community for nearly 20 years, and it’s possible I’ve worn almost as many hats in those years. In early November of 1999, I set foot on campus for the first time as a half-time Office Assistant in the Education Program. I was 23 and fresh out of grad school, eager for a stable day job so that I could pursue my interests as a musician. The average age of the student body back then was 37. Trains still ran through campus, Science and Keystone were yet to be built, and from my very first day on campus, I felt at home. As compared to my own student experience on the Seattle campus, UWT felt so much more intimate, and the caring dedication from faculty and staff was palpable.

In the years since, I have worked as a program administrator and/or adviser in several different academic units – IAS, Urban Studies, International Programs, and the Institute of Technology. And I had the unique experience of serving as the administrator to start-up UWT’s first off-campus research center, at the beautiful Center for Urban Waters on the Foss Waterway. I have served on innumerable committees, task forces, and work groups. And I have made some of the best friends I’ve ever had.

If one thing is constant at UWT, it is change, and I have had the pleasure of witnessing and being part of so many of these changes. In my own opinion, some have been positive, some negative, and some – well, just different. But one of the biggest was the transition to a four-year campus with the admission of the first freshman class in 2006. I was fortunate enough to be asked to teach as part of the Core curriculum that first year, and it was an experience that would gradually transform my professional life.

For a while, I maintained administrative positions and taught ‘on the side’. Eventually, my overriding love of teaching made this impossible, and in 2013, I jumped at the chance to teach full time. It was risky – a temporary position which might not be extended more than one year at a time. But now, six years later, I’ve had the opportunity to teach hundreds of UWT students, develop several new courses, and be recognized for my work with honors from both inside and outside the UW system.

For some reason, that fact I mentioned from my first year at UW Tacoma – that when I was 23, the average age of our students was 37 – has stuck with me over the years. When I turned 37 just a few days into Autumn Quarter of 2013, my first quarter holding the title of ‘Lecturer’, I happened to glance at those campus stats again. Wouldn’t you know it – the average age of our students was 23. If that doesn’t illustrate the profound changes as our campus grows, I don’t know what does.

What has kept me at UWT so long? Two simple things. First, I love Tacoma, and I remain committed to this experiment dreamed up by movers and shakers back in the 1980s, to bring a UW campus to our great little city. And second, our students. The diverse range of students we serve have taught me so much, and I’m honored to be able to teach them.”

If you have a UW Tacoma story to share, you can contact us at margal3@uw.edu or post your response through our online form. We look forward to hearing from you!