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A Nod to Western Civilization

Story by
Nancy Joseph

A $2.4 million gift from Jerry Hanauer is welcome news for Western Civilization scholars at the UW. 

Hanauer, who had previously funded a faculty fellowship in history, has now established the Joff Hanauer Endowment for Excellence in Western Civilization, in memory of his son. The endowment provides support for faculty and graduate students teaching and pursuing scholarly work in Western Civilization.

Hanauer’s interest in the tenets of Western Civilization is personal as well as scholarly. His family has its roots in Europe; Jerry was born in Germany and moved to Liechtenstein with his family in 1935. Before long they moved again—this time to Seattle—where they purchased Pacific Coast Feather Company. The Hanauer family has continued to maintain ownership of the company, and under Jerry’s leadership, from 1972 to 1999, it became the largest basic bedding company in North America. 

The Joff Hanauer Endowment for Excellence will fund two professorships and several graduate student fellows (Joff Hanauer Fellows), creating a community of Western Civilization scholars. The holder of one professorship will meet regularly with the fellows to foster intellectual collaboration and provide guidance; the other Joff Hanauer Professor will teach an annual undergraduate Honors course on Western Civilization and find ways to link honors students with the Joff Hanauer Fellows.

“With its emphasis on bringing together faculty and graduate students with a shared focus on Western Civilization, this endowment will benefit a wide range of scholars,” says Ron Irving, interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “This generous gift will have a major impact in the College.” You see him being governor of the State of Washington. Or a senator. I see him being a public servant in the purest and most positive way.”