Giving back to Evergreen

The Evergreen State College Foundation has a new, $1 million scholarship fund designed to help low-income students pursue their studies in sustainability, nature conservation or business.

The fund, enough to support about 25 students per year, is the result of two significant contributions of $500,000 each.

One is from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, two well-known names in the world of Microsoft and philanthropy.

The other noteworthy contributor is the Dan and Sheryl Tishman Family Foundation.

Dan Tishman is a 1977 Evergreen graduate and chairman and chief executive officer of Tishman Construction. The construction firm is one of the heavy hitters in the New York City building arena, responsible for overseeing construction of the World Trade Center complex in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Tishman stands out from the contractor crowd in another way: He also is chair of the board of trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the world’s leading environmental advocacy groups. Tishman is the first non-lawyer to lead the board of the 1.3 million-member group in its 42-year history.

Tishman left New York in 1973 and came to Olympia and TESC, where he majored in wildlife ecology. His senior year, he headed to Tierra del Fuego in southernmost South America, where he helped establish a research station sponsored by National Geographic and the Organization of American States.

Former TESC professor Oscar Soule remembers Tishman well.

“He already had a solid, well-grounded environmental ethic when he arrived at Evergreen,” South recalled. “He was always a collaborative student.”

After stints as a farmer in southern Maine raising wool-producing llamas and as a partner in a small construction company, Tishman returned to New York to the family business in 1989 and became a fourth-generation CEO of Tishman Construction in 1996.

TESC graduates are a talented and diverse lot. And sometimes they give back to the school that gave them a unique education.