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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Largest funding campaign in Western history comes to a close

After five years of collecting donations, the Western Stands for Washington Campaign reached its goal of $60 million. The effort will be commemorated with a celebration on the school’s 124th anniversary.

Hundreds of donors including faculty, staff and outside participants will gather at Viking Union in the morning and evening on Feb. 24, said Stephanie Bowers, vice president of University Advancement and president and CEO of the WWU Foundation.

Of the $60 million raised, $22.6 million will be going toward student scholarships.

Donations have purchased $2.1 million in new equipment. One facility that has been built with money raised is the Alpha Technologies Electrical Engineering Lab, Bowers said. New equipment was also purchased for the lab, she said.

The lab will be utilized by the new program at Western, the institute for energy studies, Bowers said. Huxley College of the Environment, the College of Science and Engineering and the College of Business and Economics combined to make the program happen, where students learn the science and business of future energies.

Other projects the campaign funded include a projector for the Dr. Leslie E. Spanel Planetarium in the department of physics and astronomy, said Paul Cocke, Western’s director of communications and marketing.

Some students have already received scholarships as a result of the campaign.

Junior Anne Huntemer-Silveira is studying behavioral neuroscience and has received an Alumni Association Scholarship through the campaign, she said. She received the scholarship as a freshman and has reapplied her sophomore and junior years, she said. She has received the award each time, she said.

“It’s a really long application; a couple letters of recommendation, an essay and some short responses,” Huntemer-Silveira said.

Through the scholarship, Huntemer-Silveira receives $1,000 each year, she said. The amount may not seem like much compared to tuition costs, but if Huntemer-Silveira were to earn that money working it would take her about two months, she said.

Huntemer-Silveira has been working in a lab since last May, something she wouldn’t be able to do if she were to work more, she said. She recently finished an experiment studying how musicians and non-musicians interpret sounds. Huntemer-Silveira works in the lab on a voluntary basis because it will help her get into grad school, she said. 

“The more I can do in my undergraduate experience the better odds I have of getting into a good graduate school program and the less debt I’m going to have going into that,” Huntemer-Silveira said.

She plans on getting her master’s and doctorate degrees, which will take six more years after she graduates from Western, she said.

When a donation is made, the person gets to choose where their money goes, whether to a department or a new facility, Bowers said.

One example of this is Robert S. Harrington Field, where alumnus Scott Harrington’s family donated $1 million for the turf on the field through the campaign, Bowers said. Western’s campus didn’t have a soccer field when the campaign began, Bowers said.

The campaign surpassed its goal of $60 million on Nov. 12, 2015 and has continued raising money since then. There have been a total of 21,700 donors, Cocke said.

On Feb. 24, faculty and staff will participate in a breakfast at the Viking Union, Bowers said. That evening the campaign’s closest donors are invited to the school to celebrate, Bowers said. Another event will be held on March 8, in Seattle for donors who may not be able to come to Bellingham, Bowers said.

The last campaign Western held to raise money was completed in 1998, Cocke said.

Donations are always accepted through the WWU Foundation, Bowers said.

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