BELLINGHAM, Wash. —
Western Washington University will soon get a new engineering and computer science building thanks in part to a $10 million gift from two donors.
Fred Kaiser and Grace Borsari donated the money to “Building Washington’s Future,” a campaign to raise $20 million for the new building.
"We couldn't ask for a better gift this time of year," said University President Sabah Randhawa.
Borsaru and Kaiser are Bellingham entrepreneurs and founders of Alpha Technologies.
The donation is the largest single private gift to benefit the university, and will open up more opportunities for many students.
"The most significant demand, right now, is in our STEM disciplines," said Randhawa. "We give about one-third of our degrees in STEM today. We have been rejecting about one-third of our applicants in electrical engineering."
"This gives us the opportunity to increase access in electrical engineering from 36 graduates a year to about 90 graduates a year," added Brad Johnson, WWU's Dean of the College of Science and Engineering. "We'll also be able to add a graduate program in electrical engineering."
With demand for STEM programs surging and businesses like Amazon establishing an even stronger presence in Western Washington, the new curricula are much needed.
"The state of Washington is one of the biggest tech sector employers in the country," said Johnson. "There's always been a shortage of folks in those areas so the state imports folks to fill those positions."
"I think it will help the state, and help all of higher education to help keep the best and brightest Washingtonians here in Washington," added Randhawa.
Kaiser and Borsawi are building on their long legacy of giving to the school. They have funded more than 135 scholarships over the years and donated millions more.
The building, which will be named Kaiser Borsari Hall, is a $46 million project. $10 million comes from the donation. Another $10 million must still be raised. The State of Washington has committed to the rest.
If all goes as planned, ground will be broken in two years and the building will be up and operating by 2023.
"It's a great way to head into the holidays," said Johnson. "We're very optimistic about our future."