Mission and History


The UW Graduate and Professional Student Senate represents the 12,000 graduate and professional students at the University of Washington's Seattle campus. Over 150 elected or appointed students represent the graduate and professional degree granting schools, departments, and programs. GPSS exists to improve all aspects of graduate and professional student life at the University of Washington. 

The Graduate and Professional Student Senate was founded in 1967 to provide a separate focus and voice for the interests of graduate and professional students at the University of Washington.  Prior to its founding, all students were represented by the Associated Students of the University of Washington (ASUW), founded in 1906.  As interests between the ASUW and GPSS have become more specialized, GPSS has established itself as an organization devoted to serving as a platform for issues related to graduate and professional student life.  The two entities formally became two autonomous organizations – effectively, two student governments – in April of 1976.  While the ASUW still represents all students, GPSS represents only graduate and professional student interests.

GPSS grants two senators for each degree-granting department at the University of Washington.  Senators are expected to attend two meetings per quarter and to represent their fellow students on an internal GPSS committee or a university committee.  GPSS has four elected officers: a president, vice-president, treasurer, and secretary.  They are supported by a staff of nine.  GPSS has ten internal standing committees in addition to the full Senate through which it conducts its business: Executive, Judicial, Elections, University Affairs (UA subcommittees: Academic and Administrative Affairs, Community Affairs, Diversity, Student Life), Graduate Program Review, Finance and Budget, Social, Government Relations (GR subcommittees: State Legislative Steering, Federal Legislative Steering), Dispute Resolution Advisory, and Communication and Outreach.

GPSS actively supports graduate and professional students and builds community among them with weekly, monthly and yearly publications, as well as social events throughout the year.  GPSS involves graduate students in regular reviews of their programs and works on their behalf to ensure that graduate and professional students are supported in their studies.  In addition, GPSS supports diversity programming to enhance and encourage an economically and culturally diverse campus.

GPSS initiated an annual Higher Education Summit in 2007 in order to bring together academics, policymakers, and practitioners for one day to discuss issues important to higher education in general and graduate & professional students in particular.  Each Summit has taken up a different and salient topic related to contemporary issues in higher education in Washington State.