PULLMAN, Wash. — Long time alumni volunteers Chris and Susan Marker of Medina,
Wash., have received the Washington State University Foundation’s highest honor for
volunteer service. The Weldon B. Gibson Distinguished Volunteer Award was presented to the
Markers at a recognition dinner gala Sept. 24. The award recognizes individuals “whose
exemplary service to the University has had a profound impact,” said WSU President Samuel
Some 500 donors to WSU attended the event as part of the Foundation’s 20th annual
meeting of members.
The award, given annually since 1981, is named after the WSU Foundation’s first chair,
Weldon B. “Hoot” Gibson, a 1938 graduate of WSU who also founded the Stanford Research
The Markers met at WSU. Chris earned a bachelor of arts degree at WSU in hotel and
restaurant administration in 1964, and went on to earn a master’s degree in business
administration in 1966. Susan earned a bachelor’s degree in education in 1964. After graduation,
they married and Chris went on to hold hotel management positions with Westin Hotels in the
U.S. and South Africa.
The Markers have served as volunteers for WSU since 1980, almost as long as the WSU
Foundation’s 20-year history. From 1987-88, they served as co-chairs of the WSU President’s
Associates Program They were honored with the WSU Foundation Outstanding Service Award
in 1992, and as WSU Benefactors in 1995 for their generous support of Washington State
Harry Mullikin, Chairman Emeritus of Westin Hotels and Resorts and past chair of the WSU
Foundation Board of Trustees, cited the Markers’ work in South Africa as an example of their
deep beliefs in making a difference for others. “They found the hotel had been designed to meet
the law at that time, which was segregation of the employees. So they set about very quietly to
change things. Other hotels saw what was happening and began to change,” Mullikin said.
Chris remained with Westin as vice president through 1988, when he became president of
Hillhaven Corporation’s Long Term Care Group.
Chris has served on the WSU Foundation Board of Trustess since 1985, serving as chair
from 1996-98. As a member of the Campaign WSU steering committee and co-chair of College of
Pharmacy’s campaign, he was a leader in the University’s first comprehensive fund-raising effort.
Donors contributed $275.4 million to Campaign WSU, which ended June 30, 1997. Chris was also
a member of the Hotel and Restaurant Administration Advisory Board from 1981-89, WSU Dad of
the Year in 1989 and recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award in 1981. Chris is also a member
of the President’s Kitchen Cabinet.
“The rate of change in higher education right now is remarkable, and it presents us with
many challenges if we are to continue to provide our students with the highest-quality
education. It is because of the changes ahead that we need leaders like Chris and Susan Marker,”
said President Sam Smith in recognition of the Markers.
Rom Markin, former dean of the College of Business and Economics, agreed. “One of the
common denominators that they both share is that they are character-centered people. I think our
country, our university and every institution needs more people who are character-centered. As
WSU is poised for this next millenium, we stand on the verge of a metamorphosis into an
outstanding, significant university, and it’s people like Chris and Susan who will take us there.”