Hyde family’s $1.4 million gift helps student scientists share discoveries at Washington State University

Portrait photo of James and Marilyn Hyde
The late James and Marilyn Oliver Hyde shared their love of learning, nature, and the study of insects with many Washingtonians.

Washington State University President Kirk Schulz announced today that the estate of James and Marilyn Oliver Hyde has gifted $1.4 million to support students in the Department of Entomology at WSU’s College of Agricultural, Human, and Natural Resource Sciences.

The largest onetime contribution ever designated for WSU insect education and research, the gift is the legacy of the Hydes, longtime residents of Kennewick, Wash., who shared their love of learning, nature, and the study of insects with many Washingtonians.

The estate gift creates the new Hyde Fellowship program, doubling the number of high-quality students in entomology. It also establishes the Hyde Speaker Series, which will invite experts to WSU to share the latest advances in research on pollinators, pests and insect science.

“Through their estate gift, James and Marilyn are ensuring the partnership they began with WSU so many years ago will continue to make a transformational difference for our students and through research with real implications for all of us, including food production, human and animal health, and the environment,” said Schulz. “Their investment in WSU opens doors for learning, discoveries, and outreach that will advance WSU’s already formidable expertise on these issues, which are at the forefront of WSU’s Drive to 25.” 

“WSU Entomology is truly fortunate to have supporters like James and Marilyn Hyde,” said Walter Sheppard, department chair. “Their generous gift helps us draw the best and brightest students whose research makes a real difference for all Washingtonians.”

Prof. Rich Zack and Doctoral Student Megan Asche display insect specimens at a WSU specimen museum filled with cabinets, cases and vials.
At Washington State University’s M. T. James Entomological Collection, Professor Richard Zack and doctoral student Megan Asche showcase insect specimen donations from the late James Hyde (Seth Truscott-WSU Photo).

In addition, James’ 600-species insect collection was added to the M.T. James Entomological Collection, WSU’s 1.25 million-specimen resource for education and outreach. Their estate gift will also help to fund future improvements to this important collection.

James Hyde earned his entomology degree from then-Washington State College in 1951 before pursuing a career in nuclear engineering at the Hanford nuclear reservation.

He returned to his love of insects after retirement. A passionate WSU Master Gardener, James visited area school classrooms and met with WSU faculty members to share insect specimens, science, and discoveries.

Marilyn Oliver Hyde, a 4-H equestrian program leader and longtime employee of the Washington State Horse Racing Commission, was active in the Horse Heaven Hills Kiwanis Club, and was a well-known fundraiser for a variety of causes for which she cared.

“The Hydes were generous with their knowledge, time, and resources throughout their lives, inspiring an interest in science and making a very real difference for countless people of all ages,” said Lisa Calvert, Vice President for Advancement and CEO of the WSU Foundation. “With this remarkable gift, their legacy demonstrates the unsurpassed power of education and philanthropy to improve the human condition and change the world.”

“James and Marilyn Hyde’s decision to pay forward a lifetime of involvement will greatly benefit our most promising entomology students,” said Ron Mittelhammer, Dean of CAHNRS. “I commend their dedication, and wholeheartedly thank the Hyde family on behalf of all of CAHNRS.”