UWT will name assembly hall after business leader

In a decision that will forever link the names of two Pierce County business leaders, the University of Washington Board of Regents has approved a proposal to name the new UW Tacoma assembly hall after William W. Philip, through a multi-million-dollar gift from James A. Milgard.

Milgard, of Gig Harbor, has pledged $2 million toward the building and requested that it be named William W. Philip Hall in honor of the retired chief executive officer of Columbia Bank. The Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation, which pledged $500,000 to the building, supported the request to name the building for Philip. A community leader, Philip was a key player in the founding of UW Tacoma and continues to support the university and the city. Construction on the hall is set to begin in August.

The gift is part of a $5 million personal pledge from Milgard to UW Tacoma this year.

Combined with his previous giving, it establishes Milgard as one of the University of Washington’s most influential individual donors, known as Presidential Laureates.

“Through his philanthropy, Jim Milgard has helped raise access to a quality university education for citizens of our region,” said Melanie Dressel, Columbia Bank president and CEO. “Naming the assembly hall – which is at the heart of the university in the core of the city district – in honor of Bill Philip is very fitting recognition of Bill’s vision for UWT’s impact on Tacoma.”

A groundbreaking ceremony for the hall will be held Tues., Aug. 28 at 11 a.m. on the UW Tacoma campus.

In 2003, Milgard, his late brother, Gary E. Milgard, and the Gary E. Milgard Family Foundation gave $15 million to establish the Milgard School of Business at UW Tacoma.

The Milgards founded Milgard Manufacturing (now Milgard Windows and Doors), which grew from a small family-owned window company to become the largest producer of residential windows in the western United States. James Milgard was instrumental in the development and expansion of the business.

A supporter of social services and health care in Tacoma, Philip, of Lakewood, played a role in getting the UW Tacoma campus established, sited and supported by the South Sound community. When UW officials were seeking a location for the campus, Philip encouraged them to consider downtown and helped arrange real estate options to keep land and building acquisition costs down. He has chaired or been the key volunteer for each of UW Tacoma’s fundraising campaigns, and currently serves on the university’s Capital Campaign Committee.

The University of Washington is in the final year of an eight-year, $2.5 billion capital campaign, called “Campaign UW: Creating Futures.” With Philip as one of its chief fundraising volunteers, UW Tacoma has raised $38.17 million, surpassing its final campaign goal of $35 million. The UW as a whole has raised nearly $2.25 billion. The campaign ends June 30, 2008.

The $12 million, 21,000-square-foot assembly hall at 1914 Pacific Ave. will serve as a center of civic and cultural life at UW Tacoma, hosting academic talks, banquets, student activities, conferences, community events and more. The building, designed by Thomas Hacker Architects, is scheduled to open in fall 2008. The state has committed $7.5 million toward the cost of the building, and the university is seeking about $4 million in private donations to leverage the public investment. With Milgard’s gift, UW Tacoma has raised $3.1 million toward this goal.