Faculty invest in WSU’s future

For several Washington State University scientists, devoting their careers to their students, departments and research programs is just the beginning of their investment in the university. Don Matteson, professor emeritus, chemistry; Bruce McFadden, professor emeritus, biochemistry; Robert Nilan, dean emeritus, College of Sciences; and Ralph Yount, professor of biochemistry and current chair of chemistry, all agree that the opportunities they had at WSU have inspired them to create a legacy through a planned gift.

“I was delighted the entire time I was at WSU. The faculty and staff are outstanding, and I particularly enjoyed working with the students,” says Nilan, who trained more than 75 graduate students at WSU. “I chose to give back to WSU because of all the opportunities I received as a faculty member. It is a fantastic place to work.”

Attracting students to WSU’s Department of Genetics and Cell Biology was at the center of Nilan and his wife, Winona’s, decision to create the Robert A. and Winona P. Nilan Graduate Fellowship in Genetics. The fellowship has provided for travel and operational expenses for graduate students since it was established in 1996.

“I have been blessed with the opportunity to have a significant scientific career at WSU,” Nilan says. “I found almost continuous encouragement from our administration and my colleagues to help develop academic and research excellence, first in our new biochemistry and biophysics program, and more recently in our chemistry department. This is just a great place to work and to live.”

McFadden agrees. “I enjoyed the freedom to develop my own lectures and my own biochemistry research program. Total academic freedom is necessary to maximize one’s teaching ability, and I got that at WSU.”

Driven by the desire to support WSU students through scholarships and to increase the impact of their contributions, Yount and McFadden pooled their resources to create an endowment, establishing the McFadden/Yount Undergraduate Scholarships in Biochemistry and Chemical Biology.

“There are not enough scholarships available for WSU students, and it is harder for them to afford the rising education costs,” says Yount. “By supporting scholarships, my gift can help students forever. A planned gift is really the best kind of legacy.”

Yount and McFadden support the scholarship using both outright cash donations and charitable gift annuities. The latter provide significant financial benefits for donors as well as WSU.

“I like the gift annuity arrangement because it gives me a lifelong income, a nice charitable income tax deduction, and it provides a substantial gift to WSU after my death,” says McFadden. “It is also a great satisfaction to hear from the recipients of the scholarships and to know that my gift is helping them to realize their goals.”

Matteson and his wife Marianna, professor emeritus, College of Liberal Arts, have decided to invest directly in WSU’s faculty. In addition to establishing the Marianna Merritt and Donald S. Matteson Distinguished Professorship in Foreign Languages and Cultures, the Mattesons also established the Donald S. and Marianna Merritt Matteson Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry, which will help attract and retain top scholars and teachers.

“We felt our first priority was to the departments and their faculty,” says Marianna Matteson. “If you take care of your faculty, you are taking care of your students too.”

“I always liked the general spirit of the place — like a university for everyone,” says Don Matteson. “We feel that WSU is the best place for us to leave a legacy gift.”

For each planned gift, development officers representing the colleges at WSU and the gift planning team at the WSU Foundation were available throughout the process. They helped ensure the method and size of the contribution appropriately met the needs of each individual donor.

“We have been deliberate and cautious throughout the process, and the foundation has understood that need,” says Marianna Matteson. “The foundation staff and the development officers at the colleges understood what we had in mind for these gifts and how to choose the best type of planned gift to fit our needs. Their approach to the planned giving process was very professional, responsible and helpful. It was a positive process.”

If you are interested in planning for WSU’s future in your planned giving strategy or making an annual contribution through the faculty and staff drive, contact the Gift Planning Office in the WSU Foundation at 335-7883, by e-mail at gift-planning@wsu.edu, or visit the website at http://www.wsufoundation.wsu.edu/giftplanning.

“I hope we can inspire more giving to WSU — not just for planned gifts, but for annual support as well,” notes McFadden. “Every faculty and staff member should consider giving back to WSU.”

“When you give to WSU, you always get back more than you give,” says Yount. “To be able to help someone at such a critical time in their career is really something special.”

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