VANCOUVER, Wash. — The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington announced that H.A. “Hal” Dengerink, chancellor of Washington State University Vancouver, has been selected as Clark County’s First Citizen for 2011.
The First Citizen Award recognizes a Clark County resident who has modeled exemplary citizenship through their actions and service to the community. The honor will be presented  4-6 p.m. Wednesday, June 1, at  the Hilton in Vancouver.
“Since 1989, when Hal Dengerink arrived in Vancouver, the region has greatly benefitted from his keen ability to envision and accomplish projects of immense proportion,” the Community Foundation stated in a press releasae. “Most notable is Dengerink’s lead role in establishing Washington State University Vancouver, where he has now served as chancellor for 22 years. During his tenure, the institution has expanded to occupy a 351-acre campus with eight academic buildings and offer more than 37 fields of study.”
Cow field to college campus
John White, vice president at Berger ABAM, said, “I have been fortunate to sit on the campus Advisory Committee and have had a front row seat to watch Hal’s mastery of strategy take that campus from a grassy, open cow field to a first-class facility.”
In 2004, statistics showed an 85 percent increase in southwest Washington students pursuing higher education degrees. This increase is further evidenced in the more than 8,600 WSU Vancouver alumni — of which 75 percent remain in southwest Washington.
WSU Vancouver now boasts 130 Ph.D. professors whose talents are continually engaged in the local community.
Local industries benefit from research partnerships with WSU Vancouver, while residents pursue continuing education and diverse groups collaborate on community initiatives.
“There’s a symbiotic relationship between the community and the college,” Dengerink said. “When one thrives, both prosper.”
A few of Dengerink’s accomplishments in the community include:
Active involvement with the chamber of commerce, including the spawning of Leadership Clark County — a successful professional development program.
Serving on the board of directors of the Southwest Washington Medical Center, where he has been a champion for patient safety and quality initiatives at the hospital.
Working to establish the Fort Vancouver National Historic Reserve.
Serving as co-chair of the Project Sponsors Council for the Columbia River Crossing, as appointed by Gov. Christine Gregoire. 
“He has made our community a better place through his leadership and collaboration, helping forge community identity and civic pride,” said Lynn Valenter, interim chancellor of WSU Vancouver. “Hal’s long-term vision has helped the community bring to life what could be, rather than what is.”
About the First Citizen Award
Recipients of the First Citizen Award, presented since 1939, are selected by a volunteer committee of community leaders and past award recipients. Recipients are chosen for their accomplishments and contributions to the community in a number of areas, including effectiveness in leadership roles, raising community standards and expectations, strengthening community identity and civic pride, and exemplary giving of time, self and resources. For a full listing of criteria or to view past recipients, visit our website at
First Citizen Awards Event
A reception in Dengerink’s honor will commence at 4 p.m., while the formal awards program will be held at 5 p.m. Regents Bank is the presenting sponsor in partnership with The Community Foundation for Southwest Washington and The Columbian. Hors d’oeuvres, desserts and beverages will be served. Tickets are $35 per person and can be reserved by contacting the Greater Vancouver Chamber of Commerce at 360-694-2588 or online at
Community Foundation for SW Washington
Established in 1984, The Community Foundation helps a broad cross section of citizens build stronger communities through effective philanthropy. One of the nation’s 700 community foundations, it is a tax-exempt, public charity that primarily serves Southwest Washington.