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Record-breaking generosity in an extraordinary year

by Shelby Radcliffe, Vice President for Advancement,

In more ways than one this past year proved “not unto ourselves alone are we born.” It demonstrated just how connected the world truly is. And it showed us that when others are in need, Willamette Bearcats step up. When alumni, parents and friends knew of the needs and challenges faced by our students and community this year, they responded with an unprecedented level of support.

Donors to the annual fund gave a record-breaking $2.76 million — an increase of 35% over last year’s record-setting results, which also represents an increase in donors who gave. In fact, the annual fund has doubled since 2014, and now produces resources equivalent to $61 million in endowment power — significant immediate investment per student, which impacts everything from scholarships to student research opportunities to internship stipends and a safe campus for students.

While the past academic year tested us all, Willamette remained more ambitious than ever. Our community was right there with us. In addition to the collective strength of donors powering the annual fund, some stepped forward in singular ways with remarkable giving.

With a $2 Million gift to expand Willamette Law's experiential learning, alumnus Marty Wolf ’57, LLB’60, is the law school’s largest individual donor. His visionary gift helps position Willamette Law as a leader in experiential learning.

Lindsay Stewart ’69 JD’73 and Corinne Stewart ’71 endowed the Lindsay and Corinne Stewart Professorship in Humanities through an outright gift and estate bequest totaling $2 Million. Their gifts will fund a full-time humanities professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, including an annual stipend for research.

Twenty-five new scholarship funds were created by generous donors supporting students across all colleges and many disciplines. Future recipients include female students of color at Atkinson Graduate School of Management; undergraduate students from Baker County, Oregon; and Native American and Alaska Native students at the College of Law.

Two anonymous alumni gave $1.35 million to fund the Fairweather Fellows program, providing gap-filling scholarships to prospective undergraduate students interested in Data Science and Computer Science and stipends for those students to engage in internships and academic research.

Collaborative and cross-disciplinary programs taught jointly by faculty across the College of Arts & Sciences, the College of Law, and the Atkinson School of Management are becoming a trademark of Willamette University. And now, with the merger between Willamette and the Pacific Northwest College of Art — the Northwest’s oldest and most distinguished school of art and design — we anticipate even more exciting opportunities. To make those opportunities a reality, the coming together of Willamette and PNCA will be supported by a $2 million gift from the Arlene Schnitzer Estate. The endowed fund will provide critical resources to test new initiatives and facilitate collaboration between faculties at the college and the wider university.

The last year also sparked a desire among many alumni, parents and friends to connect with each other and Willamette. Through expanded virtual programming and networking, we gathered for holiday celebrations, speaker events, conversations, reunions and even a virtual Bistro cooking lesson. We held 94 virtual events in total, maintaining engagement year-over-year and welcoming 787 first-time participants in engagement programming from around the world. Alumni, parent and friend volunteers reached all new highs this year, also. Volunteerism has grown over 40 percent since 2019 with 1,070 members of the Willamette family providing their time and talent back to Willamette in the last year. We are grateful for all those who participated in our engagement programming this year.

We celebrate and thank all our donors for their inspiring support, which totals over $17.5 million in new gifts and pledges for the year, and to those who championed our students, offered internships, and kept the community connected.

Willamette is on the move in major ways. We’re a place that is not afraid to step up and go first. But it’s always better to go with friends. Thank you to the entire Bearcat community for coming together during a big year in such a very big way.

About Willamette University

Our historic campus next to the State Capitol in Salem houses a renowned residential liberal arts college, and our downtown Portland campus houses the flagship Pacific Northwest College of Art. Professional graduate programs in Portland and Salem include the Northwest's oldest law school, Oregon's top-ranked MBA program, MA and MFA programs in the arts, writing and critical studies, and our Computing and Data Science program.

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