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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Hilary Godwin and André Ritter: New UW faculty get to know Spokane, and some of the ways UW students are helping promote better health in the region

Hilary Godwin and André Ritter

By Hilary Godwin and André Ritter

For more than 20 years, about three dozen new University of Washington faculty have embarked on a five-day bus tour of Washington state in early June. Along the way, they see the state’s varied geography and meet the people who make our state special. On Wednesday, the 2024 tour rolls into Spokane, meeting with soon-to-be-students and their families, business and civic leaders, and learning what makes Spokane such a thriving community.

This isn’t a joyride – it’s a deep dive into the communities that these professors are serving, from Tacoma to Toppenish, Richland to Nespelem, Seattle to Spokane.

Last year, both of us got to ride along and see firsthand the impact this tour has in connecting new faculty with the places around Washington that their students call home. Neither of us is originally from the state – Hilary grew up in California and André is from Brazil – and this bus tour and our other experiences here have drawn us closer to our new home. That’s why we’re so excited for this latest group of new faculty and what they’ll experience.

We like to say that the UW is the University for Washington – a reflection of our role as a public university, dedicated to serving the people of our state. One of the goals of this tour is to emphasize this mission to the newest members of the faculty, so along the route they connect with local alumni and some of the UW’s many local, state and tribal partners.

Several of those partnerships are focused on educating health care providers. Many people may know about our health partnership with Gonzaga University, which educates doctors and other health professionals in Spokane so that they can then care for patients across the region.

What many people don’t know is that the next generation of rural dentists also is being trained right here in Spokane. The focus is educating dentists who will practice in central and Eastern Washington, including in rural and underserved communities. This is through a partnership between the UW, Eastern Washington University, and many local dentists and clinics – a partnership that, thanks to the Legislature, will soon double its number of graduates to 64 each year.

Grace Martin from Spokane and Rafael Urrutia-Camargo from Monitor are just two of the students who are taking part in what’s known as the Regional Initiatives in Dental Education (RIDE) program. Studying in Spokane, Seattle and then local clinics, they’re preparing to serve patients in their communities. They’re following in the footsteps of dentists like Dr. Patty Martin, who serves patients in Walla Walla, and Dr. Mariany Morales, who cares for patients in Quincy – not far from her hometown of Yakima.

The UW is home to world-changing research and live-saving patient care. But core to our mission is educating students so that they can then go out and have a positive impact on their families and communities. That spirit of public service is what unites us, and we’re so pleased that our newest class of professors will have the opportunity to see firsthand the impact they – and the students they educate – can have. The UW was founded to serve the people of our state, including by educating the students of Washington so that they can go on to successful careers and prosperous lives.

Hilary Godwin is the dean of the University of Washington School of Public Health. André Ritter is the dean of the UW’s School of Dentistry. Learn more about the RIDE program and other local programs at