The most ambitious campaign in university’s history launches with $74 million in gifts to fund strategic plan initiatives, including endowment for financial aid

University of Puget Sound announced tonight the public phase of a $125 million capital campaign—the most ambitious in the college’s 123-year history.

One [of a Kind] The Campaign for University of Puget Sound was unveiled at a special evening event on campus for more than 400 alumni and friends of the university on Saturday, Oct. 29.

The campaign will advance Puget Sound’s position as a leading national liberal arts college by endowing faculty positions in innovative, interdisciplinary programs; building new facilities for learning and research; expanding scholarships for students and support for faculty members; and affirming Puget Sound’s commitment to the community through initiatives dedicated to stimulating progress in the region.

“Puget Sound has a tradition of being an innovative, one-of-a-kind place where independent-minded young people come in a quest to discover themselves, form new ideas they never dreamed of, cultivate talents they never knew they had, and develop opportunities they never thought would be open to them,” said President Ronald R. Thomas. “This campaign advances that tradition of innovation for the next generation by ensuring the transformative experience students find here lives up to their boundless aspirations and remains affordable to them.”

Campaign co-chairs and Puget Sound trustees Bill Weyerhaeuser and Rick Brooks ’82 announced that $74 million has been raised during the campaign’s quiet phase over the past four years, including funding for Weyerhaeuser Hall, a new interdisciplinary center for health sciences. Gifts received to date include substantial contributions to financial aid and scholarship programs, including an $8 million gift from the Lillis Foundation of Littleton, Colo.

The comprehensive campaign is the first Puget Sound has conducted in more than a decade and the first to be launched under President Ronald R. Thomas, who joined Puget Sound in July 2003. Under Thomas’s leadership, the university has created Defining Moments: The Strategic Plan for University of Puget Sound and a comprehensive master plan to ensure that the campus is poised to meet the changing demands of higher education in the decades to come.

Campaign goals include:


  • $44 million for expanded scholarships, to make college affordable for the diverse range of students who meet Puget Sound’s high academic standards. Currently 90 percent of undergraduate students receive merit- or need-based financial aid, and nearly two-thirds of students receive need-based aid.
  • $16 million for faculty support, including funding for research, student mentoring, campus academic activities, library resources, faculty sabbatical leaves, endowed chairs in various academic departments, and community engagement programs such as the Civic Scholarship Initiative, Sound Policy Institute, and Race and Pedagogy Initiative.
  • $3 million for athletics and campus life programs, including funds for student leadership development, multicultural enrichment, academic residential seminars, and athletic and orientation activities.


  • $18 million for Weyerhaeuser Hall, an interdisciplinary center for health and behavioral sciences with public clinics for physical and occupational therapy; and for Commencement Walk, both of which were completed in summer 2011 with funds raised during the campaign’s quiet phase.
  • $17.5 million for a new athletics and aquatics center that will replace the 55-year-old pool and update the fitness center and athletics facilities for Puget Sound’s NCAA Division III athletics teams, club sports, intramurals, and recreational activities. Athletic facilities are a critical component of a residential liberal arts college, where students take part in a 24/7 living and learning experience.

Annual giving:

  • $26.5 million that will be raised through annual giving and restricted operating gifts, both of which support the university’s general operations as it pursues its mission of preparing graduates to live creative and productive lives.

The campaign funds key objectives of the university’s strategic plan, offering community, corporate, and alumni supporters the opportunity to help build the annual fund and the endowment. These two funds serve the critical role of bridging the gap between the actual cost of a Puget Sound education, and student tuition, which covers just 85 percent of the cost.

“Over my many years of association with the University of Puget Sound, it has been a privilege to be part of this very hardworking, very committed community, and to work with such terrific leadership, which has brought about such tremendous growth for the university. I love Tacoma and have come to care deeply for this college, which is such a wonderful resource for Tacoma,” said campaign co-chair and previous Puget Sound board chair Bill Weyerhaeuser, who also serves as chair of Columbia Bank.

“I hope alumni will participate in this campaign for Puget Sound because they feel like I do—four years here changed who I am. This is a time to reflect on how the value of our experience has played out in the rest of our lives, and on our desire to make that experience possible for another generation of students,” said campaign co-chair Rick Brooks ’82, chair of Puget Sound’s board and CEO of retailer Zumiez Inc.

Puget Sound students and alumni are unique individuals—independent-minded, critical thinkers and daring innovators, who share a common desire to make the world a better place. The evening featured and honored the achievements of many Puget Sound alumni, including Rachel Martin ’96, national security correspondent for National Public Radio; Philip Cutlip ’88, acclaimed professional baritone in New York; Seema Sueko ’94, co-founder and artistic director of Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company in San Diego; Aaron Ausland ’95, director of independent research and evaluation for World Vision International in Bogota, Colombia; George Matelich ’78, principal at Kelso & Company in New York and a director of the American Prairie Foundation; Lacey Chong ’03, senior consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton in Washington, D.C.; Debbie Regala ’68, caucus vice chair in the Washington State Senate; Lyle Quasim ’70, president of Bates Technical College; and Jill Nishi ’89, a deputy director at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Individuals and foundations who have generously contributed to the campaign to date include Carl and Renee Behnke, the Ben B. Cheney Foundation, Eric Dillon and Hollis Dillon ’84, J.D. ’88, the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, Gwen and Charles Lillis and the Lillis Foundation, John ’80 and Deanna ’80 Oppenheimer P’11, P14, Robert and Rebecca Pohlad P’07 and the Pohlad Family Foundation, and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

For more about One [of a Kind] The Campaign for Puget Sound visit:

Press Photos of President Ronald R. Thomas, the campaign co-chairs, Weyerhaeuser Hall, Bill and Gail Weyerhaeuser, and students enjoying the new campus spaces can be downloaded from:

Photos on page: Top left: President Ronald R. Thomas; Above right: Students relax on the new Event Lawn; Above left: Two students study at dusk

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Campaign Steering Committee

  • Carl G. Behnke, president, REB Enterprises Inc., Seattle, Wash.
  • Richard Brooks ’82, chair of the Puget Sound board of trustees, CEO/Director, Zumiez Inc., Everett, Wash.
  • Marvin H. Caruthers P’02, professor of chemistry, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colo.
  • Michael J. Corliss ’82, P’13, CEO, Investco Financial Corporation, Sumner, Wash.
  • Hollis Dillon ’84, J.D. ’88, owner and co-president of; Seattle, Wash.
  • Kathleen A. Duncan ’82, trustee, Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Foundation, Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Frederick W. Grimm ’78, CEO, Triad Development, Seattle, Wash.
  • Gwendolyn H. Lillis P’05, trustee, Lillis Foundation, Castle Rock, Colo.
  • George E. Matelich ’78, managing director, Kelso & Company, New York, New York
  • Jill Nishi ’89, deputy director, strategy & management and special initiatives, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, Wash.
  • Deanna Oppenheimer ’80, P’11, P’14, chief executive officer of UK retail banking, vice chair global retail banking, Barclays, London, England
  • Robert C. Pohlad P’07, principal, Pohlad Companies, Minneapolis, Minn.
  • Ronald R. Thomas, president, University of Puget Sound, Tacoma, Wash.
  • David Watson ’92, president of Puget Sound Alumni Council and director, product innovation, children and families, Netflix, Los Altos Hills, Calif.
  • William T. Weyerhaeuser, chair of Columbia Banking System, Inc., Tacoma, Washington