Warren Buck leads off Encore! lecture series


The first chancellor of University of Washington Bothell and popular physics professor will start the University’s Encore! lecture series, which features distinguished faculty. On April 7, 2016, Buck will share insights from his career at the event that also honors his five decades as a physicist, academic leader, artist and social change advocate.

The UW Bothell Office of Alumni Relations and the Office of Research created the new Encore! lecture series to invite some of the alumni’s beloved faculty to answer the question, “If this was your final talk, what wisdom would you try and impart on the world?”

Warren Buck, who celebrated his 70th birthday in February, is the inaugural speaker. He will retire in June, but won’t stay away from the classroom for long. Buck plans on taking a break through fall quarter and then returning part-time to the classroom next winter.

“I’ve been fortunate in my life to be able to do some things – sometimes for the first time – been honored to be at University of Washington Bothell,” Buck said. “So I’m very flattered and honored to be the inaugural speaker at this event.”

Warren Buck

He’s experienced so much in his life and career that there are many ways he could inspire us. Buck may talk about dropping out of college as a student before returning to Morgan State University where he fell in love with physics in his junior year.

“Still loving it today,” he says. “I always come back to physics in some form or fashion.”

In his lecture, Buck might tell how he came from Hampton University in Virginia as a physicist to give a talk at the University of Washington in Seattle “and discovered there was a Bothell campus looking for a chancellor and people asking if I wanted the job.” He says, “It was a lot to swallow. Eventually I did apply and got the job.”

Buck was UW Bothell chancellor from June 1999 through June 2005 and oversaw the construction of a major portion of the new campus. He describes the time as “very busy, very challenging.” He worried about all the moving parts that could go wrong.

“I also felt, if we can get this right it will be a masterpiece,” he says. “With a lot of work, good fortune, friends and supporters, we made it work.”

Buck says he had to battle for UW Bothell in the political arena. Among his accomplishments he counts winning four-year status for the university, which started offering only upper-level courses, and building the south campus off-ramp from I-405, which allowed the campus to grow.

He might talk about his family and mention two uncles who were Tuskegee Airmen. An uncle from his mother’s side of the family and an uncle from his father’s side were members of the group of African-Airmen pilots who fought in World War II.

The lecture might also reference his love of sailing and art. Once, when he sailed to the Bahamas and ran out of money, he says he paid the bills by selling paintings. He is also likely to mention the many mentors he’s had – and says he’s tried to translate their support by helping people as he was helped.