Washington University in St. Louis is a global leader in higher education that offers student-centered educational excellence within a world-class research-intensive university. The University has a well-established, top-ranked medical school anchoring a thriving academic medical enterprise and distinctive programs in the life sciences; a strong arts and sciences core; a rich collection of professional schools spanning architecture and the arts, business, engineering, law, and social work; and a number of innovative, interdisciplinary graduate programs. Washington University in St. Louis has over 16,000 undergraduate and graduate/professional students. The University has 4,151 full- and part-time faculty members and almost three-quarters of a billion dollars in annual research expenditures. Founded in 1853, the University is an independent, Research 1 institution. The University’s undergraduate program is currently ranked 16th overall by U.S. News and World Report and sixteenth in admissions selectivity, and the School of Medicine is number 4 nationally in NIH funding. Washington University attracts students and faculty from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.
Washington University belongs to a small class of elite universities characterized by a deep commitment to excellence in education, as well as in research and scholarship. Over the last two decades, the University has invested significantly in its undergraduate enterprise, constructing new residence halls, academic buildings, and a university center, as well as expanding student services and maintaining its strong commitment to personalized attention and small class size. The University is organized into seven academic units: the McKelvey School of Engineering, the School of Medicine, the Olin Business School, the Brown School of Social Work, the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts, the School of Law, and Arts & Sciences. The University has just completed a capital campaign that surpassed $3.3 billion and is in the early stages of planning strategy for the next ten years. The University’s endowment stands currently at $8.1 billion. Total sponsored research in FY2018 was $711.8 million, including $522.7 million in federal contracts and grants. In 2020, the University concluded the most significant capital project in recent history: the transformation of the east end of the Danforth campus. This project included eight major components — three new academic buildings, an expansion of the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, two new multi-use facilities, an underground parking garage, and the expansive new Ann and Andrew Tisch Park. The east end transformation of the Danforth campus has furthered the University’s mission and values, setting the course for the next era of academic excellence and service to society.
Washington University’s FY2020 operating revenues were $3.75 billion, and its operating expenses were $3.56 billion. The University’s strong operating results are comprised of $1.63 billion in patient care and affiliated hospital revenues, $661 million in research, $452 million in net tuition and fees, and endowment spending of $362 million. The medical school accounts for over 70 percent of the University’s revenues through its strong patent care and research. The University’s largest expenditure is compensation which makes up 60 percent of total expenditures. As of June 30, 2020, the market value of the University’s endowment was $8.5 billion, a number that has risen steadily with successful capital campaigns and investments. Two large recent investments made by Washington University, the east end transformation, and a campus-wide technology upgrade, will draw on funding sources required to support the projects between 2021 and 2025. In addition, construction began in March 2020 on what will be one of the largest neuroscience research buildings in the country when it opens in 2023, a project that will be supported by medical school revenues.
Washington University in St. Louis’ mission is to discover and disseminate knowledge and protect the freedom of inquiry through research, teaching, and learning. The University creates an environment to encourage and support an ethos of wide-ranging exploration. Washington University’s faculty and staff strive to enhance the lives and livelihoods of students, the people of the greater St. Louis community, the country, and the world. Unusual among major American universities, Washington University was not established with a financial endowment, nor the backing of a single religious organization, individual wealthy patron, nor earmarked government support, but rather by a collaboration of empowered and diverse citizens. That spirit of collaboration, independence, and dedication to the mission of pursuit of knowledge and service for its own merits still characterizes Washington University today.
Washington University is in the process of launching a detailed strategic planning process which will culminate in a decadal roadmap for the institution. Faculty development and diversity, equity, and inclusion are fundamental to the strategic plan.
A Commitment to Racial Equity. A Community United.
Washington University is committed to listening, engaging, and mission-oriented action that makes the University and St. Louis a beacon of justice to the world. Strategic, targeted investments support and advance diversity, equity, and inclusion across the University. Several initiatives are underway to empower the university community members and drive change. Washington University is actively building a framework for change and progress in advancing diversity and inclusion and has committed to a set of concrete actions geared toward addressing systemic racism and its toll on Black communities, including its Supplier Diversity Initiative to identify viable opportunities for qualified diverse enterprises and help to sustain their long-term success.
The Chancellor’s WashU Commitment supports the equitable redevelopment of St. Louis neighborhoods affected by decades of systemic disinvestment. In his 2019 inaugural address, Chancellor Andrew Martin announced the WashU Pledge that low-income students from Missouri and Southern Illinois will be able to attend Washington University free starting with the 2020–2021 school year. The University hopes students will remain in the area following graduation and contribute to the local economy.
In addition, WashU is redoubling its efforts to support every individual who studies, teaches, or works on its campuses with the resources they need to succeed, with a particular focus on Black students, faculty, and staff, as well as other underrepresented groups, to deepen capacity for supporting their success.
In 1853, prominent St. Louis merchant Wayman Crow and his pastor, William Greenleaf Eliot Jr., concerned about the lack of institutions of higher learning in the growing midwest, led the founding of Washington University in St. Louis.
During the 1840s and 50s, waves of immigrants flooded into St. Louis, boosting the population of the young city. With these newcomers came a pressing need for education — both industrial training and basic general courses — conducted outside of regular working hours. So, the first educational step of the young Washington University was to establish an evening program on October 22, 1854. Over the succeeding decades, the continuing education program underwent many changes.
The University flourished at its location in downtown St. Louis for its first 50 years, growing from an evening program to an Institution offering a full slate of scientific, liberal arts, and classical course offerings. In time, schools of law and fine arts were added. In 1891, the school acquired the St. Louis Medical College to form a medical department, which merged with the Missouri Medical College in 1899.
Over the course of its first 150 years, Washington University in St. Louis has made remarkable progress, growing from a college educating local men and women to an internationally known research university with students and faculty from approximately 90 countries.
On the School’s 25th anniversary, it boasted 1,486 students and 87 professors. In 2009, Washington University had 6,114 undergraduate students and 3,297 professors, with over 35 percent of undergraduate students being multicultural and international students.