2019 Legacy Award Recipients – Jud Marquardt & Connie Niva

Both within a few months of turning 80, Connie Niva and Jud Marquardt have left a powerful imprint on the communities in Snohomish and King counties they call home. This includes UW Bothell, which they have supported for many years and which now figures prominently in their estate plans.

When deciding where and how to give back, says Jud, people often “seek out an established connection — from their own or their children’s history — but it’s not required.” Neither he nor Connie attended the University of Washington. Only one of their combined six children did. But both saw an untapped opportunity in the young UW Bothell campus.


“When you look at Everett and Snohomish County, there were so many students, but they had been shortchanged,” says Connie, noting there was no easily accessible UW campus in the area before UW Bothell was founded. “Now, they make up a significant proportion of UW Bothell students, which provides needed engineers for Boeing, nurses for the region’s hospitals, and teachers and principals for local schools.”

Connie, who was a co-founder of the Center for Women in Democracy in Seattle, says she feels personally connected to the school’s commitment to educating women, especially in fields where they remain underrepresented. “You don’t have to go back that far,” she says, “to see that there were not many opportunities for us.”

From the very beginning, Connie says, UW Bothell was intentional about attracting students who were financially disadvantaged or the first in their immediate families to earn a four-year degree — students who have incredible drive and important dreams to realize.

As a first-generation college student, this resonates with Jud.

It’s all about putting the students first, he says. “You can see this with class size and teacher–student ratios. While these are easier to do as a young educational institution, even as it grows the Bothell campus consistently sets itself apart in this respect and is doing more than ever for the students.”

Connie Niva and Jud Marquardt


There is absolute clarity of purpose for both Connie and Jud when it comes to addressing the cost shift in public higher education from the state to students and families. Connie explains it was a very different financial picture when she and Jud attended college.

“We came through school for under $100 for a quarter because the state was funding school then,” she says. “We came out of college debt-free.”

Graduating without crippling debt made all the difference in what they could do with their lives — and how they could give back.

With an undergraduate degree in microbiology and a master’s degree in government relations — which she earned at age 53 — Connie took on a number of leadership roles in public service. She was a member of the Everett City Council and Everett Port Commission. She served on the Washington State Transportation Commission, for three years as its chair. For 12 years, she also was a member of Washington State University’s Board of Regents, twice serving as chair.

Jud co-founded a successful architecture firm, LMN Architects, which now has a 40-year legacy of projects across the country — including the Activities & Recreation Center on the UW Bothell campus. He also has been a dynamic member of the UW Bothell Advisory Board for the last 15 years, serving as chair for two of them.

On one point, Jud is unequivocal: Had it not been for the state school system, its funding and the doors that a four-year college degree opened, he and Connie would not have had the means to become the highly productive and engaged members in their respective communities. And they would not have been able to support UW Bothell among other noteworthy higher education institutions across the country.

“Students need to begin their lives without this overwhelming weight of debt,” Jud says.


When asked why they support UW Bothell, the answer is simple: How could we not? They are quick to point with pride at the successes of the school, its students and alumni. Statewide, UW Bothell has an enviable graduation rate, says Jud. “Their highest average graduate starting salaries — the ROI of the cost of education — are an assurance that the time and donations we make are fueling success.

“These are powerful ways to say, ‘Don’t overlook UW Bothell,’” he adds, noting that UW Bothell has evolved to become a first-choice school.

Chancellor Wolf Yeigh, Connie Niva, and Jud Marquardt

This is a transformative moment for UW Bothell, Connie and Jud believe. “It’s a top-tier higher ed institution now and is continuing to evolve every day,” says Jud. “We know that our contribution will help ensure that today’s progress continues into the future.”

Another point of pride for the couple is the fact that 61% of UW Bothell undergraduate students and 54% of graduate students graduated debt-free in 2018-19. “As donors, these numbers tell us that there is a return on our investment,” Jud says.

In recognition of their service, philanthropy and inspiration, UW Bothell named Connie and Jud the recipients of the 2019 Legacy Award, the highest award for donors and supporters of the university.

“We are ready to support higher education wherever it’s being delivered with enthusiasm and success,” says Connie.


Beyond their own personal contributions, Connie and Jud take a community view of philanthropy and believe in the collective power of giving. “It’s about creating a group force for change. You need bodies, and there’s nothing better than people working together to support students,” says Jud.

“A hallmark of UW Bothell is to honor all contributions,” he adds. “No gift is too small, and when you look at the board and alumni contributions, this is verifiable enthusiasm for the institution. It shows that everyone is in the game — including faculty and staff — and that’s powerful!”

Adds Connie: “Helping students thrive and live their dreams is the best investment in the future of our community and the school. We put UW Bothell in our estate plan,” she says, “and we want others to stay in the game with us.”