Georgene Patten, a graduate of the Whitworth Class of 1950, was honored during Homecoming Weekend this year with the 2015 Alumni Service to Whitworth Award for her ardent lifelong desire to educate young people's minds and hearts.
Funding education for the caliber of students who attend Whitworth has been one of Georgene's defining passions, evidenced by her philanthropic creativity. Since 1997 she has been active in the Whitworth Auxiliary, a fund-raising group that supports Whitworth students. Georgene served as president of the auxiliary from 2003-05; fund-raising projects under her leadership included the marketing of a Whitworth afghan, designed by Professor Emeritus of Art Pauline Haas. While Georgene has served on many auxiliary committees, she says she would especially like to be remembered "for my passion in working to establish the Whitworth Auxiliary Endowed Scholarship." The scholarship and its first award, given this fall, honors the auxiliary's centennial, in October 2015.
In the 1990s, Whitworth's "Adopt a Scholar" program sparked Georgene's interest in making annual contributions to the Whitworth Scholarship Fund. She is especially proud of her "$10 Makes a Difference" campaign, which she began during Bill Robinson's tenure as Whitworth's president (1993-2010). After hearing Robinson's story of a student Phonathon caller who liked to share with alumni that "even $10 will make a difference," Patten turned a spontaneous giving opportunity at an auxiliary Christmas gathering into an annual tradition. Every year, $10 bills collected from attendees at this gathering are donated to the President's Discretionary Scholarship Fund.
Patten's family established the Les & Georgene Patten Scholarship in honor of Georgene's late husband, Les, a graduate of the Class of 1950, Whitworth championship tennis player and 1994 inductee into the Whitworth Heritage Gallery Hall of Fame. Georgene has also established three charitable gift annuities with The Whitworth Foundation and has named Whitworth the beneficiary of her IRA; the proceeds of these gifts will benefit the Patten Scholarship.
Georgene's favorite quote, a Chinese proverb, defines her Whitworth legacy:
If you are planning for a year, sow rice.
If you are planning for a decade, plant trees.
If you are planning for a lifetime, educate people.