Thank goodness for a bit of mettle. When Winifred Weter applied for a faculty position at Seattle Pacific College in 1935, a classics Ph...

Thank goodness for a bit of mettle. When Winifred Weter applied for a faculty position at Seattle Pacific College in 1935, a classics Ph.D. in hand, the job offer she got was “directing ladies’ athletics.”

“Only if I can teach Greek as well,” she shot back to Seattle Pacific’s president, C. Hoyt Watson. Thus began her four decades as a professor of Greek, Latin and classical literature at what is now Seattle Pacific University. The community was better for it.

Weter died in January 2006 at 96, but her legacy has lived on in the classics program SPU has maintained in her honor, in an annual lecture series on the liberal arts and, now, in a $4.83 million unrestricted cash gift to the Christian university at the foot of Queen Anne. The donation, among the school’s largest, was announced by SPU President Philip Eaton.

Eaton described Weter’s 70-plus years of loyalty to one institution as extraordinary.

She inspired countless students with her love of classical languages and literature, according to university officials.

“You don’t leave the classics out if you’re interested in what’s good, true and beautiful. She stood for that,” said SPU professor Mike Macdonald at the time of her death.

In 1933, Weter became one of the first women to earn a doctorate from the University of Chicago, according to Eaton. She taught Greek and Latin at SPU for 40 years, before retiring in 1975. She remained close to the university, as it did with her.

When the SPU women’s basketball team made it to the NCAA Final Four in 2005, the players visited Weter at her Laurelhurst home, closing a circle with the school’s first women’s basketball coach, Eaton recalled.

Weter saved and invested the money she inherited from her father, James P. Weter, a prominent Seattle attorney in the early 1900s and a significant campus benefactor during his lifetime, said Eaton.

Her bequest may be the lead gift for a new performance hall planned for the SPU campus. The state-of-the-art “Grand Hall” would host concerts, lectures, symposia and other events, as well as serve as a chapel.

While a final decision hasn’t been made, the Weter donation certainly will add to SPU’s luster in the years to come.