By Max Eberts

The Washington State University Foundation celebrated its extraordinary volunteers for their leadership and service to Washington State University at the 2024 Volunteer Awards Celebration in Spokane this past May.

This year the Foundation honored Betsy Cowles with the Weldon B. Gibson Distinguished Volunteer Award. The Foundation also honored Greg ’82 and Jayne ’82 Beckel with the William F. “Biff” Brotherton Cougar Spirit Award. Three additional volunteers, Mike Cappetto ’85 and Paul W. ’59 and Betsy A. ’60 Sunich, were also recognized at the event with Outstanding Service Awards.

“We are so lucky to have such remarkable people volunteering for WSU. It’s a real privilege to acknowledge the commitment, leadership, and accomplishments of each of these generous and dedicated volunteers,” said Mike Connell, vice president for advancement and CEO of WSU Foundation. “They’ve achieved great things for our university and have made a big difference in making opportunities happen for our students, student athletes, faculty, and research programs.”

2024 Gibson Award recipient

Betsy Cowles

The Weldon B. Gibson Distinguished Volunteer Award is the Foundation’s highest honor. Named after the Foundation’s founding chair, the late Dr. Weldon B. “Hoot” Gibson ’38, the award honors those Cougs whose service has powered WSU to exceptional accomplishments.

The Foundation was elated to name Betsy Cowles the 2024 Gibson Award recipient. Betsy Cowles has served our university for nearly three decades, from working to build a WSU campus in Spokane to serving on the WSU Spokane Advisory Board. She has also served as a member of the Board of Regents, including serving as chair, as well as a member of the WSU Foundation’s Board of Directors. Her lifetime support of WSU comes not only from her many years of service but also through sharing her business and entrepreneurial expertise and through her generous philanthropic gifts, many from the Harriet Cheney Cowles Foundation. While Betsy is not a WSU alumna—she received her BA from Dartmouth and JD from George Washington University—she has been a devoted adopted Cougar since 2009.

As chair and CEO of the Cowles Company, a fourth-generation family-owned business that operates a portfolio of media, real-estate, and paper-product companies in the Pacific Northwest, Betsy has served on a number of boards to benefit WSU, Spokane, and the Pacific Northwest and has been a champion for building partnerships between WSU and the Spokane business community. She has also played an influential role in public policy in the state and region for decades. Through her lifetime of support, advocacy, and exceptional leadership, Betsy has helped to advance the mission of WSU and its impact on the state of Washington in immeasurable ways.

The 2024 Brotherton Award recipients

Greg ’82 and Jayne ’82 Beckel

The William F. “Biff” Brotherton Cougar Spirit Award is the Foundation’s topmost volunteer award for service to Cougar Athletics and honors those who have demonstrated generous philanthropic support and enthusiastic volunteerism on behalf of WSU and Cougar Athletics. The award is named in honor of William F. “Biff” Brotherton ’65 whose generosity and devotion to Cougar Athletics personifies this award.

Greg and Jayne possess hearts brimming with Cougar spirit. At WSU Greg loved sports, playing on the men’s golf team and serving as captain of the men’s soccer team. Along the way, Jayne was there to cheer him and other Cougs on. From their time as students attending Cougar football and basketball games to the present, they have remained dedicated Cougar Athletics supporters, which has also inspired much of their philanthropic leadership.

Understanding that first-class facilities are pivotal to the growth of Cougar Athletics and student athlete enrichment, Greg and Jayne have supported two major facility projects. Their first major gift toward the renovation of what is today Gesa Field at Martin Stadium marked the start of a new era for Cougar Football. Greg and Jayne stepped up with another major gift for the Taylor Sports Complex, personally assisting with fundraising by leveraging their relationships with other Cougs to secure more than $8 million in commitments.

2024 Outstanding Service Award Recipients

The Outstanding Service Awards honor those who have shown significant service to the WSU Foundation and the university’s fundraising efforts through their philanthropy and through inspiring the broader WSU community to support major projects.

This year’s volunteer Outstanding Service Award recipients are:

Mike Cappetto ’85

Mike is not only an inspiration for all those who aspire to a life of leadership and service, he is a passionate philanthropist who has invested his time and treasure in WSU for more than three decades. Mike has served as an invaluable and esteemed volunteer for numerous events and programs, as well as serving as a member of the WSU Foundation Board of Trustees. He has given generously to Cougar Athletics, the Carson College of Business, and the College of Agricultural, Human and Natural Resource Sciences, as well as numerous university programs. His leadership, advocacy, and support have significantly advanced WSU’s ability to serve and benefit people and communities across the state of Washington and beyond.

Paul W. ’59 and Betsy A. ’60 Sunich

Paul and Betsy are not only an inspiration for all those who aspire to a life of leadership and service, they have invested their time and treasure in WSU for five decades, from serving on the WSU Foundation events committee to establishing the Paul and Betsy Sunich Endowment for Student and Faculty Excellence in the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture. Paul also served as a member of the Foundation Board of Trustees. Paul and Betsy, along with fellow Coug Larry Culver ’64, are known for bringing hundreds of Cougs together after founding the Cougar Yacht Club. Their leadership, advocacy, and support have significantly advanced WSU’s ability to serve and benefit people and communities across the state of Washington and beyond.