In recognition of their 50th Reunion, the Whitman College Class of 1969 raised more than $2.6 million in gifts and pledges and documented more than $4.5 million in bequests and future gift intentions - making theirs one of the largest class gifts ever.

Nearly $235,000 of the class gift went to the First Opportunity Scholarship Endowment, which the Reunion Committee designated as the focus of the Class of 1969's fundraising. The First Opportunity Scholarship Endowment has provided significant need-based aid to a first-generation student each year since its inception in 2008. The endowment was established with the goal of making a Whitman education more accessible and affordable to students of all socioeconomic backgrounds.

Walt Wood '69 served as one of four co-chairs on the 50th Reunion Committee, along with Linda Weihmann Brown '69, Mike Stipe '69 and Susan Ritz Williams '69. Wood said the generous support of the reunion fundraising effort is indicative of his former classmates' deep gratitude for their alma mater.

"There's a lot of loyalty among this group - the class is extremely supportive of Whitman," Wood said. "Many of us look back fondly on our experience at Whitman as a life-changing event. This class gift was an opportunity to help future generations get the same wonderful experience that we had."