Leslie Ashbaugh’s legacy

Leslie Ashbaugh

Dr. Leslie Ashbaugh, respected UW Bothell lecturer, 2012 Distinguished Teacher of the Year, and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Academic Achievement, is remembered by the Leslie Ashbaugh Student Support Fund.

Leslie passed away March 29, 2016 after a long battle with cancer, during which she chose to remain in her leadership role on campus.

Student support was central to Leslie’s work. She was passionate about the idea of a student emergency fund to provide students grants and short term loans for emergent situations like childcare, food instability, emergency rent assistance, car maintenance etc.

She envisioned a fund that would allow first and second year students to take advantage of high-impact opportunities (unpaid internships, study abroad, on campus research) — all which are difficult for UW Bothell students to engage in because they are costly or would require students to quit their jobs in order to participate.


Ashbaugh joined the UW Bothell School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences as a lecturer in 1998 and was quickly recognized as an outstanding teacher and colleague. In 2001 student government selected her for the Excellence in Teaching Award.

In 2012 she was honored as the UW Bothell Distinguished Teaching Award winner, and she was also named director of the Center for University Studies and Programs (CUSP), which supports first-year and pre-major students at UW Bothell.

Each year she led a study abroad course in Zambia, where students learned about issues of global development. Leslie often shared her personal experiences and insights from her decades of travel to Zambia with her students.

Leslie’s defining trait as an instructor was her ability to call students in to lively and constructive conversations and debates. She was determined to hear and consider the perspectives of her students, in a way that often dissolved the perceived hierarchy between undergraduate student and faculty experts. Students felt a true sense of community and belonging in her classroom.

On her faculty page Ashbaugh wrote that she used students’ observations of society and culture “to stimulate questions regarding how we think and learn and how we construct knowledge about ourselves and about others.”

“Offering students the opportunity to see for themselves how our life experiences are shaped by social categories and how such categories are culturally created opens the door to social change,” Ashbaugh wrote.


“Leslie’s commitment and dedication to educating and serving the students of the University of Washington Bothell was inspirational. Her impact to the campus and community will be missed, but not forgotten. She has left a legacy that will continue to inspire and guide us in supporting and advocating for our students.”

George Theo, dean of student affairs

“She was passionate about working at Bothell; it gave her huge satisfaction.”

Pamela Dore, assistant director for events at University Marketing and Communications, and a friend of Ashbaugh’s for 30 years

“She brought a passion and energy to every topic we discussed and I will miss her laugh and engaging personality.  The world is a dimmer place without her spark.”

Annie Brelsford, faculty and administrative affairs specialist, School of STEM

Jennifer Wren Atkinson, lecturer and associate director of the Pre-Major Program and Discovery Core, recalls talking to a stranger in the Salt Lake City airport who turned out to be a UW Bothell alum.

“She immediately began reminiscing about her undergraduate experience in IAS, and almost everything she shared came back to the classes taught by an instructor named Leslie Ashbaugh. As I got to know Leslie myself in the years that followed, it no longer surprised me that she was the person students remembered and talked about most fondly, even years later and in other parts of the world. She was an amazing teacher and an amazing person.”