On May 16, 2014, Seattle Pacific University President Dan Martin announced that Board of Trustees member Becky Arnett Gilliam ’80 had made a $2.5 million challenge gift in support of the campaign to restore SPU’s original building, Alexander Hall. Gilliam’s gift was the single largest individual current gift commitment in the University’s history.
To Gilliam, the restoration of Alexander Hall holds special meaning because it was the residence hall where her father, Paul Arnett, lived when he was a student at SPU. “My father's father went to Seattle Pacific when it was a seminary in the early 1900s, and my father attended Seattle Pacific in the ‘40s,” she says. “As a student in the ‘70s, I would go to the chapel in Alexander Hall to be alone and pray. It was extremely moving to me to know that both my father and grandfather had worshipped in that same chapel as young men and most likely grappled there with some of the same life decisions I did.
“I consider it a privilege to have a part in the restoration of a building that holds so much significance for my family and for SPU,” she continues. “I offer my gift to honor the legacy passed down by the Arnett family: a deep-seated love for God, a belief in the value of a Christian education, and a great respect for Seattle Pacific.”
Gilliam’s gift places the Restore Alexander campaign at nearly 40 percent of the needed total to complete the project. Structured as a challenge gift, her donation is intended to inspire the participation of the broad community of SPU alumni and friends, and to affirm the values and tradition of philanthropy upon which Seattle Pacific — including the original Alexander Hall — were built.