Maria Kott Endowed Professorship of Polish Studies at the University of Washington

Maria Kott Endowed Professorship of Polish Studies at the University of Washington

 Maria Kott Endowed Professorship of Polish Studies at the University of Washington has been established!  We are grateful to all the donors who, over the years, contributed to the Endowment Fund, which reached $362,000 this year. Above all, we thank Ryszard Kott who matched the existing funds up to  $700,000 and pledged to provide additional funds for the endowment to reach $1 million. This most generous gift from Ryszard is in honor of his late wife Maria and we her for her  inspiration, for her passion with which she supported the UWPSEC ‘s causes, and for her love of Polish art, music, theater, history, and literature.

The search for the Endowed Professor will start in AY 2022/23. It will be the first and only Polish Endowed Professorship on the West Coast and it will guarantee that Polish language and culture are present at the UW as long as the university exists!


1955- – 2020

The endowed position is named in honor of Maria Elżbieta “Isia” Kott, née Kłoczowska. Maria was born and raised in Poland in a patriotic family, which included university professors, lecturers, and teachers, with strong attachment to Polish traditions and culture, as well as strong faith. By profession, she also was an educator. After moving to Seattle, she kept close to her Polish roots, and her sons grew up speaking Polish and knowing traditions and heritage of the old country. She was well- versed in Polish culture and literature, and especially loved Polish poetry. She appreciated all arts, theater, and music, and enjoyed visiting great museums in America and all over the world. She also liked traveling and sightseeing natural wonders of national parks in the US and other countries. She was a wonderful and loving person, who always keep in mind the less fortunate, and supported them through the Catholic Church and other charitable organizations.   Maria’s husband Ryszard always felt both lucky and incredibly privileged that such a wonderful person wanted to share her life with him. Ryszard and the family arrived in Seattle in 1989, and they decided to spend a year or two in the US so he could gain professional experience at Microsoft and their two young sons could learn English. It turned out they stayed for good. Feeling strongly about Polish culture and traditions, over time they both became active members of the local Polish American community, supporting different organizations and initiatives, and promoting Polish culture and heritage in the Pacific Northwest. Maria and Ryszard organized the first exhibition of Polish artistic posters in Seattle and over the years, Maria helped to organize several exhibitions related to Polish art and history. She collected works of art, from Polish folk art through Pacific NW misty landscapes to works of her favorite painters Jerzy Nowosielski and Józef Czapski.   It was only natural that Maria became a co-founder and an active member of the UW Polish Studies Endowment Committee. She helped with identifying and inviting distinguished speakers, organizing lectures, exhibitions, and auctions, to which she was donating silver and amber jewelry, fine pottery, and small art pieces that she brought from Poland. She provided generous financial support for the Endowment Committee and for other Polish organizations.   Maria knew in her heart that the Polish Studies program at the University of Washington could grow and become a beacon of knowledge about Polish culture. Therefore, she worked tirelessly to establish an endowed position at the UW. Her dream, before her premature death, was funding the Endowed Chair of Polish Studies at the University of Washington. Ryszard felt it only appropriate that an endowed position created to honor Maria should focus on the Polish culture and arts.