The Stephen B.L. Penrose Society, established in 2008, recognizes those who have given to Whitman College cumulative gifts of $1 million or more. The leadership of Penrose Society members have helped to transform Whitman from a small and committed college of Western renown to a top-tier liberal arts institution of national prominence.
Penrose Society Co-chairs Dr. Elizabeth “Libby” Main Welty, trustee emerita, and Robert “Bob” W. Young ’55, overseer emeritus, and the Whitman College community join together to recognize the latest addition to the Stephen B.L. Penrose Society:
Paul Panagakis ’55 was inspired by a great love and devotion to his family heritage. Born in Spokane, Washington, to Greek parents, he enjoyed growing up in a multicultural household, and as an adult, he cherished staying in touch with his many relatives in Greece and Australia. It would be this loyalty – both to his family and to Whitman College – that formed a generous legacy following his death in 2011.
At Whitman, Panagakis studied mathematics and physics and was one of the first students to attend the 3-2 engineering program at Columbia University. After graduation, he served in the military and was asked to participate in several high-profile rocket development projects but could not attend due to family matters. Following this, he completed his graduate studies in civil engineering at Washington State University.
Panagakis began his civilian career in engineering back in his hometown of Spokane then moved to Seattle in 1964, where he would live and work until his retirement in the late 1990s. There he established his consulting firm, working on a range of structural and civil engineering design projects. Also during his years in Seattle, Panagakis met and married his wife, Alice. He enjoyed watercolor painting, snow skiing and sail boat racing, and he became involved in the St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, volunteering 40 years of engineering consulting.
Inspired by his love of family and his intention to make a difference for Whitman students, Panagakis, prior to his death in 2011, made arrangements for Whitman gift annuities to benefit his family members. He also made a large bequest to establish the Paul Panagakis Scholarship Endowment for students majoring in, or intending to major in, mathematics. These annuities will continue to support his family members during their lifetimes and later supplement his scholarship at Whitman.
“He loved Whitman so much that he was constantly advising young students that Whitman College was the only school to attend,” his wife, Alice, said. “His Whitman education gave him the abilities and skills to be productive, to be disciplined to face many challenges and to excel in his field, all of which did contribute to his very happy and successful life.”
The Paul Panagakis Scholarship Endowment further enriches Whitman’s already robust mathematics program and also helps the college improve access through scholarship support, strengthening our efforts to recruit, enroll and retain talented and high-achieving students. Whitman is honored to welcome Paul Panagakis to the Stephen B.L. Penrose Society in honor of his generous support.