The Hansen family’s roots at Whitman College are strong. Sigvard T. “Ted” Hansen, Jr., Whitman Class of 1957, and his wife Dalia Hansen wanted to honor that legacy and provide assistance for students in special financial circumstances. In 2011, with their children—Christopher Hansen and Eric T. Hansen, Class of 1985—they designed and funded a scholarship endowment that would do just that. The Hansen Family Scholarship Endowment provides aid to Whitman students whose financial support for a college education comes from only one parent.

The first recipient of the scholarship, the youngest of five daughters of a single mother, came to Whitman from Los Angeles. With the help of the Hansen Family Scholarship and other aid Ashley Hansack, an environmental studies—sociology major, is now approaching graduation. She hopes to return to the Watts community where she grew up and work on environmental justice issues; ultimately she would like to pursue graduate studies in urban planning. At Whitman, she has been involved with the Community Fellows program; completed an internship at the Downtown Walla Walla Foundation; represented Whitman with Club Latino at the Harvard Latino Law, Policy and Business Conference; and served as a mentor to other first generation college students. Ashley is immensely grateful to the Hansen family: “Your scholarship has relieved a tremendous financial burden for my family. I cannot thank your family enough for the generous help.”

Ted and Dalia Hansen were inspired to do more for students like Ashley. They have recently designated a portion of Ted’s retirement account to add to the Hansen Family Scholarship Endowment, making theirs one of the largest scholarship commitments to the Now Is the Time Campaign. At Whitman, Ted Hansen was a biology major, a member of Phi Delta Theta fraternity and a football player. He went on to earn his medical degree from the University of Washington and become a practicing orthopaedic surgeon, professor, researcher, innovator and leader in traumatology. Ted served on Whitman’s Board of Overseers from 1985 to 1995. In 1997, Whitman awarded him an honorary doctor of science degree, and in 2010 he was named Alumnus of Merit for his extraordinary accomplishments in medicine and community service. Dalia is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, where she was an English major. Other Hansen family Whitman graduates include Ted’s mother, Beverly Means Hansen, Class of 1929, his sister Marilee Hansen, Class of 1961, and nephew Tracy Dethlefs, Class of 1991.

Ted’s mother, Beverly, is the one whose experiences led to the focus of this scholarship. She was born in Yakima in 1908 and grew up through World War I and the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 which claimed her father. This left her mother as a single parent with two daughters, ages 10 and seven, and potential skills as a primary school teacher. Beverley did very well in school and entered Whitman in 1925. She worked at jobs as diverse as reading to President Penrose (who was blind by that time) and singing in nightclubs on the weekends. She did well enough in her double majors of French and music to be elected to Phi Beta Kappa before graduating in 1929.

The Hansen family created this scholarship to assist those who might not otherwise be able to attend Whitman. Their legacy commitment will triple the corpus of the endowment and the amount that will be available to help young people realize the dreams of a Whitman education and perhaps build their own Whitman family tree.