In recognition of a leader who has dedicated her career to helping Western students and to making a positive impact on society, a new endowed scholarship will make the dream of a college education possible for many deserving recipients.
After an impressive two decades of service to Western, Stephanie Bowers, vice president of University Advancement and president and CEO of the WWU Foundation, will retire in the summer of 2021. To honor her legacy of leadership in philanthropy, Western has established the Stephanie Bowers Endowed Recruitment and Retention Scholarship for High-Need Students.
Intended for high-need students with an emphasis on women, the scholarship presents an opportunity to provide an affordable education to promising young recipients while establishing an enduring stream of support.
Donations to the fund will provide a brighter future for current and future generations of Western students.
"Stephanie has provided exceptional leadership for the Western Foundation and University Advancement. Under her leadership, the Foundation has not only thrived through difficult times, it has transformed its capacity and vision for how it can serve the institution. Stephanie has always led from the heart with compassion and integrity, making her an outstanding colleague and ambassador for Western in the community. Her legacy will be written in the strong teams and structures of the Western Foundation and University Advancement, but also in the respect and friendship of many at Western and in the region.” -Sabah Randhawa, President, Western Washington University
"Stephanie has been an incredible asset to WWU. Her understanding of the infrastructure and approach needed for successful fundraising and friendraising, combined with tireless efforts, gifted interpersonal skills, and a standard of excellence in step with a genuine commitment to Western’s ideals, have provided resources to the university that have greatly elevated its efforts in serving the state and nation. I’m extremely proud of the success that she has had as a leader and a friend of WWU.” -Karen Morse, President Emerita, Western Washington University
For Stephanie Bowers, her husband Rich, and daughter Danna, making college more affordable for students has been a personal mission. A first-generation college graduate from rural Pennsylvania who earned a B.A. in English with a full-ride scholarship and a master’s degree through a tuition reimbursement program, Stephanie has dedicated her career to paying it forward. After achieving her master’s, she worked in philanthropy at the University of Baltimore, the University of Maryland College Park, and the University of Maryland University College.
When Western sought an executive director for the Western Foundation, Stephanie and her family moved to Bellingham. She was inspired by the natural beauty of the area and the opportunity to contribute to the WWU Foundation and Western. Under her leadership, the Foundation has seen significant increases in annual fundraising, the endowment, and overall assets under management. During the past two decades, the Foundation’s endowment has flourished, growing from $13 million to over $100 million. Total assets have expanded from $23 million to well over $110 million. She has also guided University Advancement with acumen and care through difficult times, including the 2008 recession.
During her tenure, the University Advancement team has added nearly 1,000 new Western scholarships over the past 20 years. Current year scholarship awards total $2.8 million in financial support to students, including the first awards of the prestigious President’s Scholarships. Additionally, Stephanie also oversaw the opening of remote offices in Seattle and downtown Bellingham. She led the Western Stands for Washington Campaign, raising a record $64 million in less than five years. During this time, artist Ann Morris gifted her works of art, and the grounds and facilities of Sculpture Woods on Lummi Island to the Foundation.
Stephanie was at the forefront of public-private-partnerships with a renovation of the women’s softball field, the building of Harrington Field, the sale of the Bellingham Armory, and the purchase of a residence for the university president. The Western Foundation is currently in the midst of its first capital campaign in which the naming gift marked the largest single gift in university history at $10 million.
Stephanie attributes these successes to the remarkable University Advancement staff; the engagement and creativity of key leadership volunteers throughout the decades; the three university presidents whom she served; partnerships with faculty, students, and staff across the institution; and, above all, the generous donors who make great things possible through their investments in Western.
Stephanie and her husband Rich have dedicated their life’s work to helping individuals and organizations grow and achieve their dreams. In retirement, they plan to travel, have fun, explore the world, and help people and groups find the resources they need to succeed.
For more information, please contact Tim Szymanowski, Associate Vice President for Development & Leadership Giving, at (360) 650-6101 or Tim.Szymanowski@wwu.edu