Philanthropists Gary and Barbara Ames celebrated
Board of Trustee member Gary Ames and his wife, Barbara, were honored with the President’s Award for Philanthropy for their generous service and contributions to the University at the President’s Circle Dinner in November.
Over the years, the Ameses have donated nearly $8 million to the University out of their conviction that Seattle Pacific is a vital Christian presence in the city and to the world.
“We believe very strongly that everyone benefits from a diverse environment.”
In 2001, they made an initial $1 million commitment to fund a University-wide initiative to assist traditionally underrepresented students of color, and they have remained committed to this effort through additional donations for scholarships through the years.
“We believe very strongly that everyone benefits from a diverse environment,” said Gary, former president and CEO of MediaOne International and USWest Communications. “There are so many incredibly talented students who don’t always have the opportunity to attend a university. We wanted our gifts to open the door for students who otherwise would not have this chance.”
At that time, less than 10% of SPU’s student population came from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds, but that number has steadily grown each year through the efforts of the University and through the support of donors such as the Ameses. This fall, 50% of SPU’s incoming freshman class are students of color.
Ames scholarship alumni have gone on to medical school, law school, and completed other graduate degrees.
Ames scholarship alumni have gone on to medical school, law school, and completed other graduate degrees. Scholarship recipients now work in nonprofit organizations, schools, health care, and technology companies.
For years, Gary, who is starting his second term on SPU’s board and has named SPU as a beneficiary in his estate plans, has challenged scholarship recipients to think about how they could one day give back to the university. Today, two Ames Scholarship recipients, Kevin Johnson and Denise Martinez, are now serving as SPU board members.
“We are grateful that the students we have helped are going out into the world to serve others and also coming back to serve Seattle Pacific University,” Gary said.