UW’s thinking big, and that could be good for Yakima Valley

You don’t need a Ph.D. in math to grasp the magnitude of recent gifting numbers at the University of Washington.

Last week came news that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is donating $210 million — the largest single donation in university history — for a building to house the university’s Population Health Initiative.

Earlier in October, the UW moved into a public phase of its campaign to raise $5 billion in four areas of the university. As daunting as the total sounds, the UW is already more than halfway there; it has raised $3 billion in pledges since launching the campaign in 2010 and hopes to reach the $5 billion goal by 2020.

Both initiatives result from ambitious thinking at a university that is a major player among the nation’s research universities and carries a stellar international reputation.

The Population Health Initiative, as envisioned by UW President Ana Mari Cauce, will bring together research, big data and technology to evaluate the health of an entire community and develop solutions to improve it. The initiative will consider a number of areas, from health-care access to climate change to government policies, and aims to do so systematically.

The UW already has a track record of studying conditions in overseas communities and improving their outcomes. This effort also could benefit high-poverty areas such as the Yakima Valley, where the overall health of residents consistently falls short of statewide and national averages.

Read full article: Yakima Herald.