University of Washington Tacoma

The University of Washington Tacoma (UW Tacoma) is one of three campuses in the University of Washington system, located in Tacoma, south of the main campus in Seattle, Washington, USA. The other satellite campus is in Bothell. UW Tacoma opened in temporary facilities in 1990, and moved into its permanent campus in 1997.


Following the establishment of The Evergreen State College in Olympia in 1967, interest in additional higher education opportunities in the South Sound continued to grow. In 1986, the Higher Education Coordination Board suggested branch campuses for both the University of Washington and Washington State University. Tacoma and Bothell were chosen as new UW campus sites, and three locations were selected for new WSU campuses: Vancouver, the Tri-Cities and Spokane. The initial goal of the new campuses was to provide further education for the growing numbers of community college transfer students, as well as "time bound, place bound" students with limited access to educational opportunities in programs with "demonstrated regional needs."

The nascent University of Washington Tacoma campus opened its doors in 1990 in downtown Tacoma's historic Perkins Building. The 8 story structure was chosen in part for its capacity; during UWT's early years and construction of the permanent campus further south, enrollments comprised a maximum of approximately 400 juniors and seniors. During this time, downtown Tacoma's appearance and local reputation began to change. The decision to site the new UW campus in downtown Tacoma and not in an outlying area of the city is often cited as one of the most important factors in the city's urban renewal. The somewhat unorthodox choice to renovate some of Tacoma's oldest remaining industrial structures for campus classrooms and offices, instead of razing the buildings and erecting new ones, has since been heralded for its foresight. A former cluster of blighted, decaying buildings was given new life, and soon after businesses began opening en masse in the immediate area for the first time in decades.

The current campus celebrated its long-awaited opening on May 29, 1997. Since the opening of the first building at 1900 Commerce Street, several others have been renovated. The campus library formerly served as the Snoqualmie Falls Power Company's transformer house. Building names such as Mattress Factory and West Coast Grocery (the latter within the Academic Building) recall the structures' earlier uses. Transportation within the downtown area was improved with the addition of Sound Transit's 1.6 mile Tacoma Link light rail line in 2003.

Following several years of transfer-only admissions, UWT admitted its first freshman class of approximately 150 students in Autumn of 2006. UWT expects to continue to increase enrollment and renovate additional buildings in its "footprint."


  1. University of Washington Tacoma begins classes in Perkins Building on October 1, 1990 at
  2. UW Tacoma - History and Timeline Accessed February 27, 2006.
  3. Four-year status marks new beginning for UWT The News Tribune. Accessed February 28, 2006.

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