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Walter and Kay Oliver donate $3.1 million to building Whitworth Athletics Facilities

November 11, 2016
Whitworth Trustee Walter Oliver, ’67, and his wife, Kay, have provided a lead gift of $3.1 million to be used to help complete new athletics facilities for the Whitworth Pirate teams, coaches and staff. The proposed plans will bring athletics staff together in a centralized office space and will provide an improved practice and competition venue for the football and track programs.

The project has two phases; the athletics administration project will serve as the new home for Pirate Athletics and will include new offices for all coaching staff (with the exception of the swim program’s staff, which will remain in the Aquatics Center), and a lower floor devoted to football locker rooms, offices and flexible meeting spaces. The Pine Bowl project will create a new entry to Whitworth’s football and track & field facility, offering amenities including concessions stands and restrooms, and will provide first-class space on an upper level for coaches, media, game-management staff, corporate sponsors and other groups. It will also provide perhaps the most important addition of all, an artificial turf field that will allow the football team to practice on its home field and will guarantee a playable high-quality game surface regardless of the Northwest’s uncertain fall weather. These functional facility enhancements offer significant return on an estimated project cost of approximately $13 million. Construction will commence when fund-raising is complete. For more information about the Campaign for Whitworth, or to contribute to this project, please visit

“It’s a privilege to contribute to such an important project for Whitworth, our coaching staff, and especially our student-athletes,” said Oliver. “This gift is simply an expression of gratitude for the many blessings I have been granted from my experience at Whitworth.”

Whitworth’s athletics teams always compete at the highest level in their efforts to finish at the top of the Northwest Conference and to qualify for NCAA postseason competition. The school provides a number of resources to its athletes to meet their team goals, including topnotch coaches and excellent facilities. But most coaches have been housed in subpar office space in five different buildings, including 70-year-old Graves Gymnasium.

As the home of football and track & field, Whitworth’s two largest teams in terms of sheer numbers of student-athletes, the Pine Bowl has been the scene of some incredible performances in its 100 years. Most recently, in 2015 the football team posted a 9-2 record en route to the NCAA playoffs, and track & field repeated as 2016 NWC champions (the seventh title in a row for the men, and the second for the women), while sending 12 athletes to the national championships and returning with a national title in the men’s javelin. However, in spite of all the successes, the Pine Bowl remains the oldest and least fan-friendly of Whitworth’s outdoor athletics venues.

Athletics Director Tim Demant says of the building project, “Updating the Pine Bowl and constructing an athletics-administration building will not only provide our football players and fans with a state-of-the-art facility equal to the excellence our team strives for each and every day, but will also create a place where our coaches and staff can work more collaboratively to foster the amazing culture and camaraderie that exist between coaches, staff and student-athletes. These facilities will be key parts of our desire to be the most successful and influential NCAA Div. III athletics department in the country.”

Whitworth’s mission as a Christian liberal arts institution is emphasized in its athletics program: Student-athletes are encouraged to participate fully in the academic, spiritual and social life of the campus, and Whitworth coaches are chosen for their effectiveness as teachers and mentors as well as for their athletics knowledge and ability. Whitworth takes great pride in the athletic accomplishments of its students and strives to equip student-athletes to excel in sports, in academics and in life.

Oliver joined Whitworth’s board of trustees in 1996 and served as its chair from 2008-14. Under his leadership, the university transitioned to a new president, launched a 10-year strategic plan, and oversaw major additions to the campus, including Robinson Science Hall, the Hixson Union Building expansion, the University Recreation Center, and the Lied Center for the Visual Arts. The Lied Center’s Bryan Oliver Gallery, the product of one of many gifts made by Oliver, is named in honor of his late son.

As a student at Whitworth in the 1960s, Oliver was a member of the football team and was a musician in various ensembles. He earned a psychology degree from Whitworth and a master of science degree in human resource management from Gonzaga University.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian church. The university, which has an enrollment of nearly 3,000 students, offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.


Tad Wisenor, director of campaign planning, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4401 or

Lauren Clark, media relations manager, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4703 or