Hundreds of eager WSU seniors prepare to leave Pullman each spring after graduation. Some might be headed to new jobs or internships. Others will go to graduate school, the military, or the Peace Corps. Whatever the destination, almost all those Cougs have a common need: sturdy boxes.

As they pack their crimson sweatshirts, posters, and books, the graduating students will carry away another reminder of their college days: free WSU-themed packing boxes.

And they can thank Dave Wilson ’86 for his volunteer efforts in arranging delivery of about 1,500 of those boxes for the last eight years.

“The way the box is designed you don’t even need tape. It’s a specialty type box that automatically pops together,” says Wilson. “You can close the lid, it latches together, and away you go.”

Wilson works at Spokane Packaging, where the boxes are produced. Each one has the WSU logo along with information on joining the Alumni Association. Seniors pick up the boxes at the Lewis Alumni Centre during the celebration barbecue the Friday before graduation in May. The Graduate BBQ Bash is a free lunch event hosted by the Alumni Association every year.

Wilson and Alumni Association staff thought of the box idea eight years ago. Because of his unique occupation, he was in a place where he could make it happen. His dedication to WSU helped the cause. “Everyone I work with recognizes my affection for Washington State,” says Wilson. “There isn’t anybody who knows me that doesn’t know that Dave is a Cougar.”

After he graduated from WSU in 1986 with a degree in hospitality management, Wilson decided the migratory life of hospitality executives wasn’t a fit for him. He worked in Kirkland and Seattle, and eventually moved to Spokane in 1995 for a position with Spokane Packaging.

As he progressed in his career and joined the Alumni Association, Wilson wanted to give back to his alma mater. The boxes fit perfectly.

“I’m happy that I’m in a position where I can help facilitate this. I don’t view it as anything but helping out WSU a little bit,” he says.

Wilson could be seeing some of those boxes around his own house soon. His son Tim will be a senior starting fall 2016, with plans to graduate next May. Tim plans to be a science teacher.

When the WSU students become newly-minted alumni, they’ll see Wilson’s example of volunteerism as they unpack their belongings and pursue their future. Perhaps they’ll feel inspired to give back as well.


Find out the many ways you can volunteer with the Alumni Association by sending email to or visit