Honoring the lifetime contributions that Gene and Linda Voiland have made to the college, to the university, and to society, Washington State University’s Board of Regents has renamed the College of Engineering and Architecture the Voiland College of Engineering and Architecture.
“What I made in my life and the things that I got to do and accomplish were because of the education I received at WSU,” Gene Voiland said recently. He likes to point out that he came from family of modest means and appreciates the opportunities he was given that led to his success in the oil industry.
“I’m going to try to provide those opportunities for students who are in the same spot,” Voiland said. “I hope through our support that others can achieve similar success.”
The “our” in that sentence refers to both Gene and his wife, Linda, a loyal, adopted Coug. “You give back to whoever or whatever helped you make it through,” Linda Voiland said. “When we saw we could help out other people, it was a natural fit.”
The couple has always viewed their support as an investment as much as a gift. They give because they like to see the returns that come back to others and the way in which society is improved.
“We were fortunate because of the investments that other people made in us, and we’re going to do the same thing,” said Gene Voiland.
The Voilands have been active supporters of WSU and the College of Engineering and Architecture for many years. Gene Voiland led the Investment Committee for the WSU Foundation. He is a member of the Foundation’s board of governors. He serves on advisory boards for the college as well as for the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering.
The Gene and Linda Voiland Endowment Fund provides support for scholarship for chemical engineering students, laboratories, and other needs in the Voiland School.
In 2008, the couple made a multi-million-dollar commitment to transform the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering into one of the nation’s best programs and to attract top faculty. The school has since focused its program in the area of catalysis and has hired two top researchers in the field, Yong Wang and Norbert Kruse.
“Anytime there has been a need, the Voilands rose up and made it happen,” said Jim Petersen, director of the Voiland School. “Throughout their years of providing support, they have set a tone of excellence, which people tend to rise to meet.”
“The College of Engineering and Architecture has benefited for many years from Gene and Linda’s wisdom, incomparable philanthropy, candor, and passion for Washington State University,” said Candis Claiborn, dean of the college. “Their support for the Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering has resulted in a dramatic increase in reputation, research, and enrollment.”
The couple is excited about the direction of both WSU and the newly named Voiland College. “In the past, the university has sometimes not given itself enough credit. But, in recent years, the university and college have become more focused, cementing a world-class reputation in critical fields,” Voiland said.
“The quality of students coming out of WSU is as good or better than anyplace,” said Voiland. “If you want to get something done, hire a WSU person. They know how to work, they’re trained, and they’re smart. We really do have something special at WSU. We just need to grow and flex our muscles, and that’s what I see happening.”
The Voilands are looking forward to the future as the college further establishes areas of excellence as a named college.
“We have some areas of research where we are viewed as the go-to place in the world,” says Gene Voiland. “We have the best research and professors, and the best expertise.”
At the same time, the couple is happy that the college will continue to focus on its ability to educate good engineers trained in the fundamentals who go on to impact the world.
“Linda and I are honored beyond anything we could imagine by WSU naming the College of Engineering and Architecture for us,” said Gene Voiland. “WSU not only provided me with an excellent education, but the professors who taught and mentored me made a real difference in all parts of my life.
“We are grateful to support WSU and to be in a position to give something back in return for what we were given. We see this college—and WSU as a whole—only increasing their value and contributions to the students, industry, the state and beyond.”