A Brief History

The Institute for Marine Studies (IMS) was established as a graduate program by the University of Washington Board of Regents in September 1972. Its purpose was to provide teaching, research, and public service on contemporary problems in ocean and coastal management. The Director and faculty were appointed starting in 1974 and classes were offered shortly thereafter. Initially, IMS students received degrees through the College of Fisheries or the Graduate School of Public Affairs. The Master of Marine Affairs degree was authorized in 1978.

IMS became part of the new College of Ocean and Fishery Sciences (COFS) in 1981, along with the Schools of Fisheries and of Oceanography, the Applied Physics Laboratory, and the Washington Sea Grant Program. Donald McKernan was the appointed as the first director, serving from 1974 until his death in 1979. Warren Wooster served as interim director until 1982, when Edward Miles became director. The next year, the Institute moved to a new building, the Marine Studies Facility. Under Miles’ leadership, the Institute was renamed the School of Marine Affairs in 1990. Marc Hershman served as director from 1993-2003, and served as a valued leader and mentor in the fields of marine policy, coastal zone management, marine ports and transportation, and law. The current director, Thomas Leschine, was appointed in 2003.

The School joined the newly created College of the Environment in 2009, adding to the UW’s mission of creating a world-class environmental education and research institution. In furtherance of the College’s mission, the School expanded its mandate to become the School of Marine and Environmental Affairs (SMEA) in 2011.