Seattle Times Publisher Receives WSU Distinguished Volunteer Award

PULLMAN, Wash. — Seattle Times Publisher and Chief Executive Officer Frank Blethen has received the Washington
State University Foundation’s highest honor for volunteer service.
The Weldon B. Gibson Distinguished Volunteer Award, presented to a surprised Blethen at a recognition dinner gala
Friday night, recognizes individuals “whose exemplary service to the University has had a profound impact,” said WSU
President Samuel Smith. Some 500 donors to WSU attended the event as part of the Foundation’s 19th annual meeting of
The award, given annually since 1981, is named after the WSU Foundation’s first chair, Weldon B. “Hoot” Gibson, a
1938 graduate of WSU who also founded the Stanford Research Institute.
As a member of the Campaign WSU steering committee and chair of the major gifts committee, Blethen helped lead the
University’s first comprehensive fund-raising effort. Donors contributed $275.4 million to Campaign WSU, which ended June
30, 1997.
Blethen and his wife, Charlene, were honored as WSU Benefactors in 1993 after they and the Seattle Times established
the Seattle Times/Blethen Family Minority Communication Scholarship Fund and the Seattle Times/Blethen Family Student
Access Fund for students with physical disabilities and special learning needs during the campaign. He continues to give to
these funds and serves on the WSU Foundation Board of Trustees. Blethen’s sons, Ryan and James Blethen, are WSU alumni.
“Frank has helped WSU articulate its mission and values to many of the state’s top leaders on the westside,” President
Smith said. “He is one of the state’s strongest supporters of higher education. And when Frank believes in something, he
demonstrates it with extraordinary effort and commitment.”
Blethen’s affiliation with WSU began in the mid-1970s when he was associate publisher and then publisher of the Walla
Walla Union-Bulletin. He said he was impressed with the WSU graduates he hired at the Bulletin and came to appreciate what
he called universal qualities in WSU graduates: good communication and critical thinking skills, good technical skills, and
solid work ethics.
Blethen returned to the Seattle Times in 1979 as assistant circulation manager. He served as circulation manager, vice
president of sales and marketing, chief operating officer and president before becoming publisher. He serves as chairman and chief
executive officer of the Seattle Times Company, the 14th largest private company headquartered in Washington and the 21st
largest employer in the Puget Sound Region.
Blethen’s involvement at WSU typifies his and the Seattle Times’ commitment to community service. The Seattle Times
received the Corporate Citizenship Award in the 1998 Pacific Northwest Good Works Awards “for reaching beyond its printed
pages and using its resources to actively invest in the communities it serves.” Among the activities for which the Times was
recognized were United Way’s $51.1 million campaign, its own Fund for the Needy, its media campaign in support of the
Martin Luther King Jr. holiday and involvement in reading and literacy programs.
Blethen earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Arizona State University in 1968. He was adopted as a Cougar by the
WSU Alumni Association in 1990.
Past recipients of the service award include Gibson, 1983; George A. Goudy, 1981; Robert A. Cheatham, 1982; Glenn
Terrell, 1984; Michael Dederer, 1985; Donald Downen, 1986; Robert W. Austin, 1987; Robert B. McEachern, 1988; Orville
A. Vogel, 1989; Harold and Jeanne Rounds Olsen, 1990; Phillip M. Lighty, 1991; Arthur and Helen Severance Brunstad,
1992; Jay Rockey, 1993; Jerry W. Camp Sr., 1994; Kate B. Webster, 1995; James C. Kraft, 1996; and Harry Mullikin, 1997.