Growing up in Spokane during the 1940s and ‘50s, Dr. Ned Wogman enjoyed a perfectly happy childhood. There was tennis. There was music. A younger brother. One thing there wasn’t—enough money between parents Walfred and Lela Wogman to send Ned to college, no matter how many lawns were mowed and no matter how much snow was shoveled by their overachieving 1957 graduate of Rogers High School.
Nevertheless, Ned applied for scholarships to several colleges and universities. One school delivered enough student aid to realize young Ned’s college dreams.
According to Ned, what was then Washington State College said, “Based on your grades and your parents’ salary, we can provide tuition, room, and board for your freshman year.” Ned added that the funding was “not very high.”
Ned enrolled at what would soon become Washington State University right away, getting “my hands on all the chemistry, physics, and math I could.”
Ned’s B.S. in chemistry from WSU in 1961 would lead to a fine career as a teacher, much like his mother. Or so he thought.
The WSU student experience has been known to be as impactful in the classroom as in the field or laboratory; and experiential learning between his junior and senior years got Ned thinking about graduate school and well beyond.
“I was able to link with General Electric at the Hanford Site as an undergraduate and again after I graduated with my chemistry degree from WSU,” said Ned of the former nuclear production complex in Benton County. “Although I was originally going to teach high school chemistry, the Manhattan Project scientists I worked with at Hanford during the summers convinced me to go to graduate school. This summer experience inside the laboratory totally changed my life.”
That life would include a PhD in physical chemistry with an emphasis on nuclear physics and nuclear chemistry from Purdue University for which Ned credits WSU with preparing him.
“I took all the inorganic, analytical, and physical chemistry courses offered during my four years at WSU as well as a few organic chemistry courses,” said Ned. “These prepared me very well for my graduate education.”
That education led Dr. Wogman directly toward a prolific and decorated career as a nuclear physicist/nuclear chemist with Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), which would include inspections of weapons of mass destruction, lunar materials, and radioactive pollutants. That career would also include an avocation as a teacher of nuclear science for graduate students at the Joint Center for Graduate Studies in Richland (now WSU Tri-Cities).
When Ned retired from PNNL, he was the Chief Scientist for the National Security Directorate. And during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, he was asked to work with the Nuclear Threat Initiative in Washington, D.C. and with the National Academy of Sciences, which kept him busy.
Residing now in North Las Vegas, Nevada, and eager to open opportunities in science careers for those who might not otherwise be able to afford it, Ned and his wife Nancy—also a longtime PNNL employee—have committed $5 million through their estate plans to support STEM teaching and research at WSU’s College of Arts and Sciences. Their future gift will create two professorships, two fellowships, and one scholarship.
A breakdown of the five-part testamentary commitment from Ned and Nancy Wogman:
- Dr. Ned and Nancy Wogman Distinguished Professorship in Chemistry: to supplement the salary of the holder of the professorship, to pay salaries for assistants, and to pay expenses associated with the holder’s scholarly work.
- Dr. Ned and Nancy Wogman Distinguished Professorship in Physics: to supplement the salary of the holder of the professorship, to pay salaries for assistants, and to pay expenses associated with the holder’s scholarly work.
- Dr. Ned and Nancy Wogman Faculty Fellowships in Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science and/or Mathematics: to provide funding to faculty in early- to mid-career (less than 10 years).
- Dr. Ned and Nancy Wogman Graduate Fellowships in Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science and/or Mathematics: to provide fellowship stipends to be used by the recipient for things such as tuition, fees, subsistence, and research expenses.
- Dr. Ned and Nancy Wogman Undergraduate Student Scholarships in Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science and/or Mathematics: to provide scholarships to undergraduate students studying Chemistry, Physics, Environmental Science, and/or Mathematics.
“What’s truly impressive about this gift is its incredible range,” said WSU College of Arts & Sciences Dean Todd Butler. “In supporting together undergraduates, graduate students, and the faculty who work alongside them, Ned and Nancy are transforming the whole lifecycle of teaching and research in the college. A gift of this ambition has the potential to catalyze multiple generations of scientists and innovators, yielding discoveries we can’t yet even imagine.”
The extraordinary commitment from Dr. Ned and Nancy Wogman reflects their appreciation for the value of higher education and its power to prepare students for rewarding and influential careers in science.
“Our hope is that some will become research scientists and enjoy their careers in the manner that Ned did,” said Nancy, who grew up in Kennewick and graduated from Kinman Business University in Spokane and attended Columbia Basin College. “We also hope that the faculty and students helped by these endowments will go on to help others with their science education in the future, creating a domino effect.”
To this day at 83 years old, well into retirement, Ned continues to be involved with education.
“I always enjoyed working with students,” Ned said. “I am still doing that today with a high school here in the Vegas Valley.”
Giving not only treasure, but also time to the worthy cause of education will long define the legacy of Dr. Ned and Nancy Wogman, whose gift to WSU’s College of Arts and Sciences is sure to make lasting impact on real lives for generations. Much like WSU’s impact on Ned’s career.
For more information about the College of Arts and Sciences at Washington State University, visit cas.wsu.edu. For more information about how to include the university in your estate plans, visit WSU Foundation Gift Planning.
By Bryan Boyle, WSU Foundation