The Bellevue College Foundation has announced one of the 10 largest cash donations it has received in the past decade: a $200,000 gift to the Interior Design program that will connect students with firms and practitioners in the region, giving them vital professional experience and contacts to help launch their careers.
Given by the family of Doris Katz, a former instructor and program chair, the gift will fund a comprehensive professional engagement program, including master workshops, visits from acclaimed interior design professionals, trips to working studios in the region, design internships and more.
“This wonderful gift will allow us to continue building on the success of the college’s Interior Design program, which is already recognized as one of the premier programs in the region,” said Vice President of Instruction Tom Nielsen, who was hired by Katz in 1982 as an adjunct drafting instructor. “It’s a fitting tribute to Doris, who did so much to build the foundation for the program it has become today.”
Katz, a Wisconsin native and a long-time resident of Mercer Island, spent her career as a high school and college educator before her death in 1991. During her seven-year tenure at BC in the 1980s, she grew the Interior Design department from just a few design classes into a formal degree program that became nationally accredited, a rarity at the time for two-year colleges. She introduced a number of key innovations, such as creating an advisory committee of design professionals to provide input on the curriculum, forming a student advisory committee and a robust alumni group, and requiring students to complete two internships before graduation.
“Doris early on recognized how important it was for students to engage with people already in the field. This donation will make it possible to provide our students with a well-rounded and more hands-on educational experience, so they’ll be much better prepared when it’s time to look for jobs,” Program Chair Michael Culpepper said.
Bellevue College offers the only state-supported Interior Design program in the Puget Sound region, and one of only three accredited programs in Washington state. Serving approximately 500 students each year, the program awards certificates, associate degrees and, since 2010, has offered a bachelor’s degree program that graduated its second class this past June.