Article via The Olympian
By Abby Spegman
South Puget Sound Community College says a recent gift worth $1.2 million, the largest in its history, will help it expand in-demand health care programs such as nursing and medical assisting in the coming years.
The college recently bought a four-story building across U.S. Highway 101 from its campus in west Olympia for $4 million from the estate of Dr. Angela J. Bowen, a well-known physician and philanthropist who died in 2017. The estate provided the college with an in-kind contribution of $1.2 million.
A college spokeswoman said the purchase, which was finalized in late November, would have been out of reach without the gift.
The four-story, 24,000-square-foot building on Heritage Court Southwest is expected to open to students in fall 2021 as the Dr. Angela Bowen Center for Health Education. Two floors are currently leased to Olympia Orthopaedic Associates through next year and will then undergo an extensive renovation.
“To say that Thurston County is growing and aging is an understatement. If you look at the projections for our community, this building and Dr. Bowen’s legacy here will truly be a gift that continues to give long into the future for Thurston County,” SPSCC President Tim Stokes said at an event Wednesday celebrating the acquisition.
The SPSCC Foundation will move its office to the top floor of the new building this summer.
Bowen was an endocrinologist and medical researcher who founded the Western Institutional Review Board (WIRB) to ensure the health and rights of patients in clinical trials were protected. It became the largest for-profit review board in the world, with Bowen serving as president and CEO.
She also left her mark on the Olympia community, leading the effort to open Capital Medical Center and later serving on its board. In 2012, she bought Olympia Country and Golf Club, where she was a longtime member and which at the time was grappling with debt and declining membership, according to Olympian archives.
The Heritage Court building was completed in 2009 to house the offices of WIRB, which moved to Puyallup in 2013. (By then Bowen had sold the company and left its board of directors.) The building still houses offices for Angela J. Bowen & Associates, and her corner office still has on display her books, various awards and collection of antique medical instruments.
Across the highway, the college was running out of room on campus to expand health education programs. With the new building, it hopes to double the number of graduating nurses within five years and increase enrollment in other health-related programs, SPSCC Trustee Leonor Fuller said Wednesday.
Fuller called the opportunity to educate future health care providers while also continuing Bowen’s mission to improve access to quality care “the proverbial win-win.”