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Jill and Matt McCluskey honor daughter’s memory with foundation, race for campus safety

Jill and Matt McCluskey
Jill and Matt McCluskey, faculty at Washington State University, founded the Lauren McCluskey Foundation to honor their daughter Lauren's legacy by supporting charitable work in campus safety, amateur athletics and animal welfare.

A silver pin of a foot flanked by wings adorns Jill McCluskey’s blue blazer. A nearby folder bears a sticker with the same emblem, the name of her daughter, Lauren, displayed prominently on the bridge of the foot.

It’s the symbol for the non-profit organization established earlier this year by WSU faculty members Jill and Matt McCluskey to honor their daughter Lauren’s legacy. The 21-year-old was murdered on the campus of the University of Utah on Oct. 22, 2018.

Next month, the Lauren McCluskey Foundation will host its first events in Pullman, including a 5K walk/run raising money to fund research and education programs centered around making college campuses nationwide safer for students.  Jill McCluskey will also speak as part of a panel on campus safety at the WSU Safety Fair on Oct. 22.

“While we are starting small and keeping it simple, we’ve already seen a tremendous amount of support from people in the community,” Matt McCluskey said.

Although the tragedy occurred in Utah, Lauren McCluskey was raised in Pullman and was active in community events.

Jill McCluskey is the director of the School of Economic Sciences as well as a regent’s professor. Matt McCluskey is a professor in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. His research focuses on high pressure and semiconductor physics.

The McCluskeys are aiming to raise $50,000 this year in support of charitable work in three specific areas: campus safety, amateur athletics and animal welfare.

Lauren McCluskey earned a track and field scholarship to the University of Utah after graduating from Pullman High School. She also volunteered at the Whitman County Human Society in Pullman, which will host a dedication for its new cat wing named after Lauren at 2 p.m. on Oct. 5. A tree will also be planted next month in Lauren’s honor at the WSU Arboretum, funded by graduate students from the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the School of Economic Sciences.

When it comes to campus safety, the couple’s goal is to assemble an advisory board for the foundation that’ll look at specific policies to push to make college campuses nationwide safer. Recruiting more female officers, offering robust trainings for university employees and enhancing lines of communication between university departments and law enforcement are among the topics they intend to explore.

“We appreciate all of the support we’ve received and all the great ideas that have come from the community,” Jill McCluskey said.

A track and field scholarship set up by the McCluskeys at the University of Utah has already garnered more than $100,000 in donations. Thousands of dollars have also been donated in Lauren’s honor in support of the humane society’s cat wing.

The Lauren McCluskey 5K Race for Campus Safety begins at 9 a.m. at Mary’s Park, 1750 Johnson Ave. in Pullman on Oct. 5. A ticketed dinner at Banyan’s Event Center is scheduled for 6 p.m. To learn more about the foundation visit laurenmccluskey.org.

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