The Tod and Maxine McClaskey Foundation has given $2 million to establish an endowed chair in hospitality business management at Washington State University Vancouver.
The gift honors the late Tod McClaskey, cofounder of Red Lion Inn Hotels, and his wife, Maxine.
The money will fund a faculty chair position in the Carson College of Business at WSU Vancouver. Florian Zach becomes WSU Vancouver’s first endowed chair.
The endowment follows an earlier gift from the McClaskey Foundation, which funded a faculty position for the first five years of WSU Vancouver’s School of Hospitality Business Management, which launched in 2013.
“The foundation originally donated dollars for us to start this program. Because of its success, the foundation decided to make a permanent investment,” Jennifer Miltenberger, director of development and alumni relations, said Tuesday.
Endowed chairs are done through philanthropy, Miltenberger said, “either to create a new position for an instructor or to complement the salary and benefits or research dollars. It raises the prestige of a program and allows a university to attract and retain the best and brightest.”
The Vancouver-based program is part of the WSU School of Hospitality Business Management in Pullman, which ranks among the top 5 percent of such programs in the country, according to the university.
“The McClaskey Foundation’s investment has allowed us to bring a quality program to our region and serve one of the fastest-growing tourism markets in the country – the Vancouver/Portland metropolitan area,” Miltenberger said.
Red Lion Inns was founded in Vancouver in 1959 when McClaskey and partner Ed Pietz bought the 89-room Thunderbird Motor Inn near Portland’s Memorial Coliseum.
By the time the Clark County businessmen sold the company 25 years later, it employed 11,000 workers at 52 properties in eight states, making it the largest privately owned hotel chain west of the Mississippi River.
Tod McClaskey died in 2003 at age 91. Maxine McClaskey died in 2005.
“This gift has been a wonderful way to honor my grandparents and to support WSU Vancouver’s leadership in developing partnerships with Clark College and the Skills Center,” Jillian McClaskey Hagstrom, foundation board member, said in a Tuesday news release. “This program creates stronger pathways for students to transfer seamlessly and foster leadership growth for the hospitality and hotel industry.”
In 2016, the foundation gave $4 million to Clark College to help build the Tod and Maxine McClaskey Culinary Institute. It will be the “premier cuisine and baking institute in our area,” a Clark College educator said.
The WSU Vancouver program offers a bachelor’s degree in hospitality business management. Students may also minor in hospitality business management or take classes to complement other degrees. All of the program’s graduates to date are employed in the hospitality industry, typically in leadership positions.
With Tuesday’s announcement, the McClaskey Foundation has donated more than $4 million to WSU Vancouver. The foundation’s initial gift, in 2008, provided $1.5 million for early learning programs in the Child Development Program. That gift enabled the university to demonstrate the benefits of full-day kindergarten, which is now available through public schools in Clark County.
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