Joyce McKay Clise ’44 — to honor the many McKay and Clise family members who have attended Whitman and still attend today — has established the McKay Clise Family Scholarship Endowment, which will provide aid to Whitman students who demonstrate financial need.

A Whitman family through and through

The scholarship is named in honor of the many members of the McKay and Clise families who attended Whitman College, beginning with Richard McKay ’16 and Effie Duff McKay ’17. Their daughters, Joyce McKay Clise ’44 and Nancy McKay Burton ’53, followed in their footsteps and met their respective husbands at Whitman: Alfred H. Clise ’43 and Paul D. Burton ’51. Two of Nancy and Paul’s children attended Whitman, Jean Burton-Over ’82 and Robert D. Burton ’84, as did Robert’s wife, Amy Gibbs Burton ’84. Jean’s son Stephen Mead Over ’11 is a current student. Other branches of the McKay family tree at Whitman started with Richard McKay’s brothers: W. James McKay ’13 and his wife, Hilda Foshaugh McKay ’14, and Alexander McKay ’16. The tradition continued with three more generations.

W. James and Hilda Foshaugh McKay Whitman connections:

Doris McKay Egbert ’40
David McKay ’43
Phillip K. McKay
William "Bill" G. McKay ’50

Bradley McKay ’87
Daniel Wallace McKay ’77
Patrick O’ Rourke ’87

Bryce McKay
Daniel Millikan ’00
James Millikan ’09

Joyce takes great pride in her extended family and its generations-long connection to Whitman College. A loyal donor to Whitman since she graduated, Joyce also views this new scholarship endowment as a way of showing gratitude to the faculty.

"I wish to honor every Whitman professor who has blessed so many of our family members’ lives with their excellent teaching and loving concern for their students," Joyce said. "We can’t put a price tag on that. Thank you Whitman."

The McKay family ties to Whitman date back to the 1910s, when Joyce’s uncle, W. James McKay ’13, and father, Richard McKay ’16, attended the college. The Clise family connection to the college began a few decades later, in the early 1940s, with Joyce’s husband, the late Alfred H. Clise ’43.

As college students, Joyce and Alfred soaked up what Whitman had to offer in and out of the classroom. Joyce was a music major and a member of Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority. She earned membership in Mortar Board, Mu Phi Epsilon and Phi Beta Kappa honorary societies, and went on to earn her master’s degree at Columbia University. She returned to Whitman to teach piano until she married Alfred.

He was a business administration major, and a member of Beta Theta Pi fraternity and the baseball and track teams. Alfred served in the Marine Corps in World War II and the Korean War, investing more than 20 years on active and reserve duty before he retired at the rank of lieutenant colonel. He represented the third generation to join his family’s real estate development business, Clise Properties Inc., in Seattle. At the time of his death in 1993, he was chairman of the board and chief executive officer.

The McKay and Clise families’ deep ties to Whitman have inspired great generosity to the college in support of the pursuit of knowledge. In addition to the new scholarship endowment:

  • The Charles F. Clise Planetarium, named for Alfred’s father, was "dedicated to those who seek knowledge of the heavens for the benefit of man."
  • The Benjamin Brown Telescope Dome was given by "four generations of McKay Whitmanites" in loving memory of Joyce’s parents, Richard ’16 and Effie Duff McKay ’17. (Brown was a professor emeritus of physics who taught at Whitman from 1895 to 1926.)
  • A Lyman House section, a gift from Joyce, is dedicated to the memory of Alfred, "a Lyman House resident, business leader, sportsman and Whitman College overseer."
  • The Alfred and Joyce McKay Clise Practice Studio in the Music Building was funded by the couple.
  • In recent years, Joyce has supported the Fouts Center for Visual Arts, Baker Ferguson Fitness Center, Hall of Science and the Classical Liberalism Speaker Fund.

"Scholarship endowment is always an area of great need," said President George Bridges. "We are deeply honored that Joyce chose to establish this fund at Whitman in the McKay and Clise family names to support students who might not otherwise be able to afford a quality liberal arts education."

Joyce hopes the McKay Clise Family Scholarship Endowment will encourage young people to attend her family’s alma mater and make it financially possible for them to do so.

— Lana Brown

Gee and class
Jennifer Gee, visiting assistant professor of biology (far right in photo), meets with one of her classes near Lakum Duckum in spring 2010.