“Linden’s unique lived experiences and deep commitment to University of Washington will make her a dedicated and effective regent,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement.
Rhoads will take the seat of outgoing regent Bill Ayers, CEO of Alaska Air Group. She begins her six-year term on the 11-member board Oct. 24.
Rhoads has deep ties to the UW spanning more than two decades.
“I love the UW,” Rhoads told GeekWire on Wednesday. “I bleed purple.”
From 2008 to 2014 she led the tech transfer and commercialization efforts at the UW at an office now known as CoMotion. During that time the UW more than doubled the number of spinouts formed annually.
Rhoads also helped launch The W Fund, an early-stage fund that invests in spinouts from the UW or other Washington state universities and research institutions.
Rhoads said she’ll use lessons from that experience in her new role on the Board of Regents, which supervises, coordinates, manages and regulates the university.
“A large part of the mission of the university is to support its world class researchers in bringing impact to the world through innovation,” she said.
Rhoads’ own personal story provides a level of appreciation for education. She used financial aid to get through college herself, and her grandfather was a professor in a community college system.
She also has three children going through college currently, and has served on the board of the state’s Committee on Advanced Tuition Payment and College Savings.
Rhoads said she deeply understands the challenges parents face in saving for college tuition, and also the desire from students who want to study high-demand subjects such as computer science.
“My heart is with those students,” she said. “I certainly understand the extent to which the innovation economy needs us to be graduating kids with those degrees.”
Ed Lazowska, a longtime UW computer science professor and former chair of the computer science department, said Rhoads’ appointment will “provide a major boost for UW’s entrepreneurship and for UW’s relationship with the startup and tech communities.”
The UW has spun out a number of high-profile startups in recent years, including Icosavax, Zap Energy, OctoML, and others.
The UW is known globally for its research prowess. It ranked No. 17 worldwide and No. 3 among public universities in the 2022 Academic Ranking of World Universities.
Prior to joining the UW, Rhoads launched Seattle Ventures, serving leadership and investor roles at several affiliated startups. Early in her career she was director of business development for Seattle company Cellular Technical Services, which provided software for cell phone companies, and was a founding investor in wireless services startup Terabeam, which was acquired in 2004.
Rhoads, who has a UW law degree, has served on boards of the Henry Art Gallery and the Buerk Center for Entrepreneurship.
Inslee also announced the re-appointment trial attorney Blaine Tamaki to the Board of Regents.