Note from the President
As the chair of the 2020 Spring Seminar in early 2020, I was very excited to be planning the annual Spring Seminar. We had the seminar presenters lined up as well as a new venue matching our refreshed take on the Seattle Geotechnical Group. In true millennial fashion, I even began assembling a “Landslide” playlist on Spotify. Then a month before the seminar, COVID-19 changed all of our lives. All in-person meetings were canceled as we reassessed what this meant for a group dependent on in-person meetings for our success over the last 45 years. I took a step back and faced more obstacles as several board members of our group resigned their positions or moved out of the Seattle Metro. This gave me a fresh opportunity and allowed me to focus on my vision for the Seattle Geotechnical Group and the Seattle geotechnical community.
I focused on bringing diversity to our board, not only in presence, but also in participation and leadership in accordance with ASCE Canon 8. This was the opportunity to make progress and continue the success of the group through further promotion of inclusivity in our community, not in words alone but with action in an open forum as champions of diversity as opposed to passive participants, which has been all too common in engineering historically. We held our first virtual Vision & Planning meeting (ever!) where we connected with chapter advisers and industry leaders and where new officers were elected and confirmed. As president of the Seattle Geotechnical Group and chair of the ASCE/Geo-Institute Seattle Section, this board of officers is an outstanding achievement as they are not only friends in the industry, but also they are some of the most capable and hard-working geotechnical engineers and managers in the Puget Sound and the United States. I am humbled by their excellence and am excited to see them continue to develop into leaders of the industry and as role-models for the next generation of geotechnical professionals.
Beyond aggressively championing diversity, our group has continued to support the UW graduate program through the Robert D. Holtz Endowed Fellowship and several donations funding the Geo-Institute Graduate Student Society (GIGSS) at the University of Washington. Established in 2007 with an initial endowment of $50,000, The Holtz Fellowship fund has grown to over $523,000. In 2015 we made a pledge to contribute $125,000 within 5 years with matching contributions from UW. This year our group will complete that donation to the fund after more than a decade of donations to the University of Washington. Moving forward, we will now focus on providing private scholarships directly to students interested in the geotechnical industry based on our core principles including excellence, diversity, and networking to continue to grow our group in quality and quantity and maintain our position as one of the most successful technical committees of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
Thank you for taking the time to read this note, I am humbled by service with integrity and try to do everything I can to serve this community faithfully. I hope to see you soon in one of our webinars and someday soon at our in-person dinner meetings, seminars, and short courses. I look forward to connecting with you!
Dustin R. Taylor, PE