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Archives: September, 2012

In the Spotlight: Prof. Peter May

Peter May

Professor Peter May encourages students to participate in the real-world political process.

As the chair of UW’s political science department, Peter May understands the importance of education continuing outside the classroom walls. It’s why he’s been closely involved with—and a vocal champion of—the department’s internship programs since joining the UW 33 years ago. In that time, interns to pass through the UW have included King County Executive Dow Constantine, radio host John Carlson, and Seattle City Councilmember Bruce Harrell. “All different political stripes,” he proudly notes.

As far as May’s concerned, education doesn’t end after each quarter; in his eyes, it’s just beginning.

It’s that commitment to students and his active interest in real-world experiences that led one former student to nominate May for a feature in this space.

Owing to his duties as department chair, May isn’t slated to teach this year. But he’s long been a champion of students taking their education outside of classroom walls; “broader educational experience” is a favorite phrase. Strengthening the department’s internship program is one way of accomplishing that. Elsewhere, he encourages students to sign up for campaigns and service learning programs. “The reality is, one doesn’t get a job these days based on a political science degree,” he said. “They get a job based on what kinds of experiences they’ve had.”

Time spent in class, however, remains critically important to May. He works with faculty to ensure a positive experience for students raised on laptops and smartphones. He accomplishes that by encouraging interaction (even in large lecture halls), angling for better communication through chat rooms and online courses, and developing analytical skills that come with new technology (evaluating websites, for instance). “One needs to think more creatively about interactive and multimedia kinds of things,” he said. “That’s part of the modern world, and I think, for the most part, our faculty and TAs have embraced that and have done well with that.”

May acknowledges that the faltering economy has taken its toll on the political science department but remains upbeat. He encourages faculty to apply for grants and fellowships, holds seminars and community discussions, and helps provide seed funding for research and travel to special events. “We’re building something,” he said. “You’re not building it in the old way – hiring more faculty, getting more state funds coming in, building new buildings, and things like that. You’re building it through the collective energy of our faculty and our graduate students.”

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The HUB gets more than just a face-lift

Hub Exterior

The HUB’s west facade remains, but big changes await within

Food court, bowling alley, ballrooms, meditation room, bank, bicycle repair shop—the UW’s Husky Union Building has always boasted amenities for students, and that hasn’t changed with the remodel, which has kept the HUB closed to students since the summer of 2010. Financed through a bond passed by a vote of the student body, and paid for through each student’s activity fee, the HUB remodel represents UW students coming together to make something beneficial to decades of future Dawgs.

HUB Atrium

The HUB’s new four-story atrium

The HUB’s lobby has been opened up, with the floors above being cut out to make an enormous, window-lined atrium, filled with natural light. There are plenty of nooks, tables and meeting rooms for students to use for study sessions, organizing meetings, or just to hang out. However, while a lot has changed in the new HUB, there are still many connections to the building’s past. The bowling alley remains, and a games room, featuring rows of pristine pool tables, has been expanded. The massive 1949 mural has been relocated, and now enjoys pride of place near the entrance.

Along with beautifying the HUB, the remodel will also unify the plumbing and HVAC systems of the three main sections of the building—previously only imperfectly coordinated—making the HUB more efficient and eco-friendly. The new climate control system piggybacks on the nearby power plant’s cooling system, drawing heat from the plant’s outgoing hot water, and cooling the air using the plant’s incoming chilled water. This helps reduce the building’s carbon emissions by 90 percent, saves money on heating and cooling costs, and has helped score the building a gold rating from LEED, the green energy certification organization.

HUB Mural

The historic HUB mural has been relocated, but remains a center of attention.

As well as a place for students to eat, play, study and hang out, the HUB also hosts the many registered student organizations (RSOs) that make campus life so vibrant, and the essential services students rely on. In the basement, a warren of offices provide space for the largest RSOs to organize (College Republicans and Student Democrats share an office, the Muslim and Buddhist student associations share another), and on the first floor there’s a resource center with everything RSOs need to make the signs, banners and newsletters that are a constant addition to campus decor.

The building is open to the public, though the finishing touches are still being put on many of the amenities. The HUB will host an opening bash for students on Sept. 22, and an Open House on Sept. 25 with games, giveaways, and all kinds of hoopla. All members of the UW community—students, faculty, staff, neighbors and friends—are invited to that, so why not drop by?


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