Moss Adams’ relationship with Western began in the early 1980s thanks to two key WWU alumni, Rick Anderson (’73) and Russ Wilson (’79), who served as champions of Western at the company. Rick retired from Moss Adams in 2016 after serving as chairman and CEO. What started with a degree in accounting from Western became a long, productive career for Anderson, providing audit and consulting services. In 1999, he became the President and COO of Moss Adams LLP before taking the helm as CEO in 2004. He served as CEO until 2013. Anderson is a member of the WWU Foundation Board of Directors.
“Western was a great place for us to recruit students,” says Anderson. “We combined a business motive with a philanthropic element. It worked well.”
After graduating from Western, Russ Wilson rose to Managing Partner of Moss Adams’ Bellingham office, and chaired the Moss Adams Foundation Board of Directors until his retirement in 2013. He oversaw compliance services such as audited financial statements and tax returns, consulted with businesses in strategic planning through the sometimes fraught details of mergers, acquisitions, successions, and transitions. Recognized as a leader with tremendous integrity at Moss Adams, he served four years on the Executive Committee. Wilson served as president of the WWU Alumni Board.
Moss Adams’ early gifts supported annual programmatic and operating needs. In 1999, Moss Adams established the Moss Adams Fund for Excellence in Accounting, a $165,000 endowment. With Anderson’s and Wilson’s leadership, Moss Adams helped kick off the Western Stands for Washington Campaign with a $500,000 commitment. Their gift established a second endowment to support faculty research and to ensure Western could attract the best accounting faculty in the state. The gifts also ensured that graduates of Western would become well rounded and educated professionals in finance, securing a bright future for Western’s students.
Wilson says of Moss Adams’ engagement, “Moss Adams focused on our people more than we had historically—our goal was to attract, grow, and retain the best and brightest we could get. University recruiting became an action item, and Western became the model.”
In 2013, Western received one of the most significant gifts from Moss Adams—the Moss Adams Professional Readiness Center in the College of Business and Economics, a space dedicated to career services and professional development for Western students.
“We really liked this initiative. This was a good mesh of our liking the project and the university’s wanting it. The purpose the room would serve was more important to us than the name on the door,” says Anderson.
More than 200 alumni have worked at Moss Adams over the years, and this space honors that work by providing mentorships, internships, and leads on jobs. Anderson and Wilson spearheaded fundraising for Western at Moss Adams by inspiring employees—both alumni and non-alumni who benefited from the presence of Western-affiliated co-workers— through donation matches and employee giving.
The legacy Anderson and Wilson leave Western is tremendous. In their years of commitment, they, Moss Adams, the Moss Adams Foundation, Moss Adams employees, alumni, parents, and friends have raised more than $1 million for Western. What these men have given Western is more than just a gift—it’s thoughtful, substantial, and ongoing support for the university and department they love.