New scholarship could fund student rent in select complexes

A Pullman philanthropist is teaming up with the WSU Foundation to provide free housing for a select group of high-achieving students. 

Duane Brelsford, President and CEO of Corporate Pointe Developers, is giving the university access to four two-bedroom apartments for the next 20 years.

The Honors College, the College of Business, the College of Architecture and Engineering, and the Athletic Department will each be given the right to one of the apartments. Each college will then provide one or two of their respective students the opportunity to live in the apartment rent-free beginning June of this year.

The apartments are located in the complexes Emerald Downs, Churchill Downs, Pimlico phase one and Pimlico phase two, Brelsford said.

The colleges will have freedom in deciding how to market the award to their students, but students selected for the award must be chosen based on their merit and financial need.

The WSU Foundation is working out the logistics of the award with Brelsford and the colleges involved.

“It’s a real innovative approach to provide an award to students,” said Mark Hermanson, WSU Foundation vice president of university development. “It’s the only one I’m aware of, it’s the only one in this institution, that we’ve had in this regard for someone to be able to go, ‘here’s an apartment you can use, and it offsets true costs.’”

Brelsford said he was inspired to develop an award like this after he met a student studying prostate cancer at a WSU Board of Governors meeting.

“I sat there and I thought, oh my gosh, what a diamond we have here at Washington State University,” Brelsford said.

The student was also struggling to stay in school because of her financial situation, Brelsford said.

“When I saw students that are high achievers wouldn’t be able to continue their education because of financial needs, it just struck me. I can offer something for those types of students,” Brelsford said.

The award will also be used strategically to attract and recruit students that might otherwise go to another university.

“As a dean of the College of Business or the dean of Honors, I’ve got this tool, if you will, that provides me the ability to recruit and retain some of the best and brightest students. It’s fantastic,” Hermanson said.

This award is only one of many projects Brelsford has contributed to in the Pullman community.

“Duane would never say it, but this one of those things that is just a piece of what they have done for the community and what they have done for WSU just this last year,” said Trevor Durham, WSU Foundation director of marketing and communication. “The visitor center that everybody drives by now was Brelsford’s family; it’s just another example of what they continue to do.”

Each eligible college is deciding on their own process for choosing award winners. Students interested in applying can contact their college directly for more information.