Washington State University has received a gift of more than $2.5 million from the estate of Barbara Bethards to provide scholarships for students pursuing bachelor of science degrees at WSU.

Barbara Bethards (’74)

Barbara Gaye Bethards (’74 Econ.) passed away July 21, 2010, at age 58 and left the bulk of her estate to fund undergraduate scholarships at WSU. Her commitment stemmed from her fathers desire to leave scholarship support to WSU as reflected in his will.

“Scholarships are increasingly important to more and more students each year,” said Elson S. Floyd, WSU president. Barbara Bethards’s generous gift for scholarships will make a meaningful difference for students seeking access to a quality higher education experience at Washington State University. The impact of her gift will open doors for WSU students for generations to come.

WSU will use the funds to support students in the WSU Regents Scholars Program, which recognizes outstanding high school students and rewards them with substantial scholarships, providing incentives for the state’s best students to stay in Washington for their college education. The program gives Washington high school educators and Native American tribal leaders a unique opportunity to recognize two students from their schools each year for their hard work and accomplishments by nominating them for the Regents Scholarship.

Generous $2.5 million gift will help generations of WSU students.

“The sciences were important to the Bethards family,” said Rise McGill, director of development for general scholarships at WSU. Barbara’s parents attended WSU as science students. Her father, Bill, was an ophthalmologist and her mother, Gaye, was a pharmacist.

This gift will have a big impact for future students and the state as a whole, McGill said.

The only daughter of Bill and Gaye Bethards, Barbara spent her formative years in Spokane and the surrounding area. She graduated from Shadle Park High School, WSU, and Gonzaga University School of Law. She dedicated 30 years to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where she worked as a transcriptionist and developed a loving family of friends. She was passionate in her love of dogs and devoted many hours to her pet companions and to the Spokane Humane Society.

Bethards’s generous estate gift is a part of The Campaign for Washington State University: Because the World Needs Big Ideas. Since July 2006, the campaign has raised more than $535 million toward a goal of $1 billion to increase support for WSU’s students, faculty, research, and programs and to leverage the University’s impact across the state, nation, and world.