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Upward Together Hits Record-Breaking Milestone—Thanks to $5M Gift for Stegner Hall

It's now the largest philanthropic campaign in Whitman College history

Rendering of the newly dedicated Stenger Hall in the Junior-Senior Housing Building Project
Rendering of the future Stegner Hall at Whitman College.

A $5 million gift lifted the Upward Together campaign to a total of $169 million—a record level of philanthropic support for a Whitman College campaign.

The gift will be recognized with the naming of Stegner Hall, in honor of John Stegner ’77 and Laurie (Elgee) Stegner ’80, in the college’s new junior-senior residential village. The name of the donor, a Whitman alum, will remain private at this time, at the donor’s request.

Upward Together Chair Nancy Serrurier (Parent ’11) announced the Stegner Hall gift and the record-setting campaign at a Board of Trustees meeting on Thursday, May 2, 2024.

“I am deeply grateful not only for this longtime contributor to the college, whose generosity will be recognized with the naming of Stegner Hall, but to all donors for making possible this record-level campaign,” says Serrurier. “The good work of Upward Together continues as we have an ambitious $200 million goal and many important strategic investments yet to make for students.”

More than 14,000 alumni, families and organizations have made gifts to the Upward Together campaign on the way to surpassing the college’s previous record-holding campaign, Now Is The Time, which raised $165.7 million in 2008–2015.

“We are so fortunate to have such broad support from alumni and families to help support Whitman students and prepare them to be the leaders and thinkers that will make our communities and the world better,” says President Sarah Bolton. “We can aspire to meet the greatest potential of the college and of our students because of this exceptional philanthropy from alumni and families.”

Building a Vibrant Community & Honoring Whitman Alumni in Public Service

Stegner Hall is the third building named, following Harvey Hall and Robart Hall, in the new junior-senior residential village. Site work is underway for the new community that will transform how students live, learn and thrive on campus. Slated to open in August 2025, the apartment-style village will provide a home for 210 students in a parklike setting along a restored College Creek and Boyer Avenue near downtown Walla Walla.

Honoree Laurie Stegner has had a long career in education. She taught in public schools for 34 years in Washington and Idaho. In 2011, she was named Teacher of the Year by the Pullman, Washington, School District.

Justice John R. Stegner has had a long career in public service. He served in the Idaho judiciary for more than 25 years. Most recently, he served as a Justice of the Idaho Supreme Court until his retirement in the fall of 2023. Throughout his tenure on the bench, he earned a reputation for his thoughtful and fair approach to interpreting the law. Justice Stegner is a recipient of the George G. Granata Jr. Award given by the Idaho judiciary and the Distinguished Jurist Award presented by the Idaho State Bar. As a Whitman student, he majored in Political Science, served as Treasurer and President of the Associated Students of Whitman College, competed in varsity soccer, and was a member of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity. In his senior year at Whitman, he received the Chester Maxey Scholarship.

The Stegners have three children—including Sarah Stegner Purdy ’08, Elizabeth Stegner Patton and Katherine Stegner—and two grandchildren, George and Irene Purdy. Other Whitman relatives of the Stegners include nieces Lauren Elgee ’14 and Rachel Elgee Eglash ’16; sister Joan Elgee ’76; son-in-law Matt Purdy '08; and brother Steve Elgee ’82 and sister-in-law Sara Woodruff Elgee ’83. The Stegners are dedicated volunteers for Whitman, having served on the Alumni Board and as class representatives and reunion volunteers.

Expanding Access for Talented Students

As Whitman breaks ground on the new residential village, the Upward Together Campaign is also doubling down on investments to make a life-changing Whitman education accessible to all students. The college reached a significant milestone toward that objective by meeting the full financial need of Washington state students beginning with the Class of 2027. A gift of $10 million from late Professor Emeritus of History J. Walter “Walt” Weingart and Kathie Weingart is making this possible for current and future generations of students through the Weingart Opportunity Scholarship.

Building on the Weingart gift, Whitman has received more than $65 million in Upward Together scholarship gifts for endowment and immediate use through The Whitman Fund to expand access and affordability for all students. The college recently announced a matching gift initiative to further grow philanthropic support for need-based and merit scholarships.

Strategic Investments in the Whitman Experience

Following a transformational gift from Nancy and Greg Serrurier (Parents ’11), Whitman expanded its Career and Community Engagement Center (CCEC) to create more intentional advising for student pathways to successful careers. Five career coaches have been hired in the CCEC to help students craft four-year plans encompassing academic and co-curricular experiences leading to successful graduate outcomes. The Upward Together campaign is also seeking to significantly expand the availability of Whitman Internship Grants, which make possible paid internship experiences at startups and nonprofits.

The college is also enhancing academic excellence through philanthropy. Gifts dedicated for teaching and learning helped fully endow the college’s Computer Science Department through faculty support endowments and the Kathleen Murray Chair in Computer Science. Other gifts and grants are growing student-faculty research funding and facilitating academic innovation in new programs such as a new concentration in Human-Centered Design.

Upward Together is also building on investments in student mental health and wellness and supporting the continued growth in the diversity of students, faculty and staff. Further enriching the vibrancy of the campus community and student life are gifts for Whitman Blues Athletics, most recently making possible the Edwards-Moore Clubhouse at Borleske Stadium dedicated on April 6, 2024, and James Hayner Field, a new all-weather competition and training surface for lacrosse and soccer dedicated on Oct. 14, 2023.

Upward Together launched in October 2023 on Ankeny Field in the heart of the Whitman campus with $138 million in commitments toward a goal of $200 million. Learn more about supporting the historic Upward Together campaign.

Published on May 6, 2024
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