$10 Million Gift to Accelerate STEM Education and Build the Workforce of Tomorrow
A $10 million gift from Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari will support “Building Washington’s Future,” a campaign to raise $20 million for a new building to house growing Western Washington University programs in electrical engineering, computer science and energy science, said Stephanie Bowers, president and CEO of the Western Washington University Foundation.
The lead gift by Kaiser and Borsari, business partners, entrepreneurs and founders of Alpha Technologies, is the largest single private gift to benefit the university.
“I am thrilled to share the news that Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari, longtime friends and champions of Western, have committed $10 million to the campaign,” said Bowers in announcing the gift today. “Over the past two decades, Fred and Grace have made many gifts that have shaped the lives of students and the future of engineering education at Western.”
The $20 million in private fundraising will be matched by the Washington State Legislature, which allocated $2 million for building design-related expenses in 2019 and plans to allocate the balance of $46 million for project design and construction in the 2021-23 biennium, with the understanding that Western will secure the private funding.
Grace Borsari and Fred Kaiser
“It has always been our priority to invest in education as it pays the highest dividends to all stakeholders,” Kaiser and Borsari said in a joint statement.
Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari are business partners, entrepreneurs and founders of Alpha Technologies, which they founded in 1975 as a supplier of backup electrical power sources for cable television systems and now provides backup power equipment to a wide range of telecommunications and broadband customers.
“This is an extraordinary commitment from Fred and Grace to advance engineering and computer science education at Western and in our state,” said Sabah Randhawa, president of Western. “It is also a great example of a public-private partnership increasingly required if we are to make substantive progress in building capacity at our public institutions to meet the Washington Roundtable’s 70 percent credential achievement for Washington students by 2030.”
Interior mock-up sketch of the new engineering building
The new building, which will be named Kaiser Borsari Hall in honor of the donors, will be on Western’s Bellingham campus and will represent Western’s accelerated expansion of the infrastructure needed to increase student access and teaching capacity in STEM fields. The space in the new facility will reduce bottlenecks in these programs and help Western meet the increasing workforce demand for people with advanced skills in systems engineering and computer science.
“This generous lead gift will significantly help us meet the tremendous surge in student interest and enrollment in our STEM programs,” said Brad Johnson, dean of Western’s College of Science and Engineering. “It will also help us to expand our programmatic emphasis on hands-on, authentic learning experiences that provide a broad population of students the ability to tackle the many technological challenges we face – right here in Washington. We are excited to be a part of a new era for Western, working in closer partnership with our community to meet the needs of students.”
The building will be designed as a hub for collaboration and connection with industry partners, and will include spaces that foster innovation, investigation and inspiration. Designed with physical and cultural accessibility and inclusion in mind, the building will foster learning and the exchange of ideas among an increasingly diverse population of students and faculty, helping Western to achieve its goals of inclusive student success and increasing Washington impact by contributing to future workforce needs in Washington and the region.
The lead gift announced today, combined with other commitments to date, puts the campaign more than halfway toward its goal of $20 million.
The Western Washington University Foundation, which is on an aggressive timeframe to ensure that the commitments for the fundraising goal are in place by this time next year, is now accepting donations and pledges. For more information, please contact Manca Valum at Manca.firstname.lastname@example.org or (360)-650-6542, or visit this website: wwu.edu/build