In 2002, the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington in Seattle celebrated 50 years of continuous Polish language instruction by organizing a lecture series featuring internationally renowned speakers.
Following the success of the lecture series, a group of UW alumni, staff, students, and members of Seattle’s Polish-American community formed the UW Polish Studies Endowment Committee (UW PSEC), dedicated to raising funds for an endowed chair of Polish studies at the UW.
In 2004, a generous donation from Andrzej and Izabella Turski and subsequent funding by our supporters allowed the Committee to continue our enthusiastically-received series of public lectures, now named the Distinguished Speaker Series. Since its establishment, the Distinguished Speaker Series has been bringing experts on topics such as science, medicine, cinema, politics, economics, history, literature, art and music to the University of Washington campus. Among our guests were Aleksander Wolszczan, Maria Siemionow, Agnieszka Holland, Leszek Balcerowicz, Adam Michnik, Marek Belka, Timothy Snyder, Eva Hoffman, Edward Hirsch, Adam Zagajewski, Rafal Olbinski, Ryszard Horowitz, Małgorzata Walewska and Mariusz Kwiecień, to name a few. These events increase knowledge and understanding of historical and contemporary Poland in our community, as well as showcase the achievements of prominent Poles and Polish-Americans.
In June 2005, we officially established the Polish Studies Endowment Fund at the University of Washington, the first step toward an Endowed Chair of Polish Studies. Our fundraising efforts also made it possible to support visiting Fulbright Lecturers in Polish Studies, who have been teaching at the UW since 2006. In addition, we award scholarships for students traveling to study in Poland.
- To ensure the availability of the Polish Studies for future generations.
- To offer scholarships and fellowships to students.
- To support courses, lectures, studies, publications, and research focused on Polish language, heritage, literature, history, art, and on the social, political and economic aspects of modern Poland.
- To continue providing support for Fulbright Lecturers and to support academic activities relating to Polish Studies.