Chancellor Andrew D. Martin

Washington University Chancellor Andrew D. Martin giving his inauguration address on Thursday, October 3

Photo courtesy Washington University

On October 3, Andrew D. Martin was inaugurated as Washington University’s 15th chancellor. The following is an excerpt from his inauguration address, putting into broader context his WashU Pledge, a bold new financial aid program that will provide a free undergraduate education to incoming, full-time Missouri and Southern Illinois students who are Pell Grant-eligible or from families with annual incomes of $75,000 or less.

As an institution founded with the very intent to provide increased educational access at the local level, we are Washington University because of St. Louis. We’re proud to be Washington University in St. Louis. And today, I’m calling us to be Washington University for St. Louis. 

I see it as our “WashU Compact” — a commitment between us and the greater St. Louis region as we look to strengthen our community partnerships and impact “In STL and For STL.”

Of course, our history informs us that we’ve long been with and for St. Louis. As former faculty member and mayor of St. Louis in the 1950s and 60s Raymond H. Tucker once said, “It is difficult for one to imagine the university without the city or the city without the university.  They have made each other great. The community and the university grow together.”

We are for St. Louis through education, with many K-12 initiatives to help more students throughout the region realize their full potential.

We are for St. Louis through research that can only be done in St. Louis, like the Living Earth Collaborative in partnership with the St. Louis Zoo and the Missouri Botanical Garden. 

We are for St. Louis through patient care and improving the health of our community, alongside BJC HealthCare.

We are for St. Louis through the economic stability we provide the region as the third largest employer.

We are also for St. Louis through our community impact such as our collaboration on neighborhood and real estate development, and by helping uplift the region through service-learning.

Being a good neighbor and being one of the world’s great research universities are not mutually exclusive. Rather, they amplify each other. By the same token, when all individuals have the same opportunities to thrive and flourish, all of us serve to benefit.

There are four things we must do in order to enhance our role and impact in the region.

First, we must confront the most significant social issues facing St. Louis through our research mission — significant challenges including some of the largest income disparities in the nation, health disparities that are unacceptable, high levels of crime, malnutrition, looming environmental concerns, and limited educational opportunities for far too many children.

As we continue to move forward, we must capitalize on more basic and applied research that directly affect our neighborhoods and communities.

The second thing we must do is open our educational doors to those living in St. Louis and beyond. In addition to our WashU Pledge and other financial aid, we have begun the work to enhance University College. We recently announced the decision to make University College stand-alone, to be even more nimble and flexible as we seek to offer in-demand programs at the flip of a switch. With an ambition to further expand University College, we will begin to offer courses across our entire curriculum for anyone in St. Louis who wants a WashU education.

The third thing we must do is continue to bolster our strong partnership with BJC on health access and disparity work as we continue to improve the health and well-being of those across our community. These are also issues to which many colleagues across our schools and departments are committed.  We must continue to synergize that work and enhance our impact here at home.

And finally, the fourth thing we must do is think about how WashU as an employer can do even more. Let’s begin to think collectively about how our practices can do the most good for the people and communities that comprise the St. Louis region.

Our resolve to enhance our role and impact in St. Louis and for St. Louis is going to take a concerted and strategic effort — both on campus and within the community. This is our compact with the region we call home.

Andrew D. Martin is chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis.

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