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Outstanding Gifts

Seattlite leaves Whitman $2.5 million

Whitman College has received the fourth-largest bequest in its history - a $2.5 million gift from a Seattle woman known for her astute business sense and tireless volunteerism. Presented to the College on December 23, the check was a "wonderful Christmas gift," said president Tom Cronin.

Alma Meisnest, a graduate of the University of Washington, left the major portion of her estate - $10 million - to four Washington private educational institutions when she died last year. Whitman, Seattle Pacific University, Pacific Lutheran University, and the University of Puget Sound each received $2.5 million.

"She has made a substantial impact on education," Cronin said. Whitman's share will go to the College's endowment, and President Cronin said he plans to propose to the trustees that part of its interest earnings be "put to use for the improvement of teaching."

A former teacher, Meisnist was a savvy investor who valued education, said Al Worden, a member of Piper Jaffray, Inc., Bellevue, Washington, and executor of her estate. She had "a profound sense of social responsibility" that compelled her to volunteer for a variety of organizations and support numerous causes, sometimes anonymously.

Gates Foundation makes gift to Whitman library

The William H. Gates Foundation has given the College a grant of $500,000 for Whitman's campaign to expand, renovate, and upgrade Penrose Memorial Library. The College has now raised over $8 million for this top-priority project.