Pauline “Polly” Dyer, a tireless advocate for wilderness preservation, received Western Washington University’s honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Western’s winter commencement ceremony March 22 in Carver Gymnasium.
Murray Dow II, president and CEO of The Dow Hotel Co. in Seattle, gave the commencement address. Dow is a 1970 graduate of Western and a 2013 Distinguished Alumnus of the College of Business and Economics.
Graduating senior Alex Huerta, a Theatre major from Palo Alto, Calif., delivered the student commencement address.
Approximately 548 undergraduates and about 28 master’s candidates received degrees this quarter.
Dyer is a Seattle conservationist and environmentalist who has spent more than 60 years working to preserve the state of Washington’s wilderness. Her grassroots organizing and lobbying efforts contributed to several environmental milestones, including the passage of the 1964 Wilderness Act, the creation of North Cascades National Park, the expansion of Olympic National Park, and the preservation of millions of acres of wilderness areas. Working with Gov. Dan Evans, Dyer helped to get legislation to add the coastal strip to Olympic National Park. In 1984, she worked again with U.S. Sen. Evans to help write the legislation to protect 95 percent of Olympic National Park under the Wilderness Act. In addition to her grassroots organizing and lobbying work, Dyer is credited with mentoring and encouraging generations of environmentalists.
Dow, the commencement speaker, graduated from Western with a degree in Economics and History. He leads a hotel management and investment firm that owns 11 upscale hotels and resorts, including the Hilton Hotel in Bellevue, and manages eight other properties across the United States. He founded The Dow Hotel Co. in 1998 after nearly 30 years in the hospitality industry, including executive positions with the Ritz Carlton in Chicago and the Four Seasons in San Francisco, and as chief of operations at HEI Hotels in Westport, Conn. Dow is also a member of Western’s College of Business and Economics advisory board and a former president of the advisory board for the CBE Center for Innovation in Education.
The ceremony’s student commencement speaker was Alex Huerta, who receive his bachelor of arts degree theater, with an emphasis in design and technology. Huerta designed sound and lighting for several theatrical productions at Western, including “Rent,” and “Twelfth Night,” and worked as an intern at the Santa Fe Opera in New Mexico and at the PCPA Theaterfest in Santa Maria, Calif.