Melanie Dressel, Columbia Bank leader and longtime supporter of UW Tacoma

The UW Tacoma community is shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Melanie Dressel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Banking System, Inc.

The UW Tacoma community is shocked and saddened to learn of the death of Melanie Dressel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Columbia Banking System, Inc. (Read coverage in The News Tribune and The Seattle Times.) Dressel, a 1974 alumna of the UW College of Arts & Sciences, died on Sunday at her home on Key Peninsula.

Chancellor Mark Pagano offered these sentiments: “UW Tacoma is deeply saddened by the loss of a wonderful friend, keen business mind, and inspiring fellow Husky, Melanie Dressel.

“Melanie adeptly balanced a commitment to excellence and professionalism with a passion for family and community. With Melanie at the helm, among numerous investments, Columbia Bank has supported dozens of UW Tacoma students through scholarships and internships, eventually hiring many UW Tacoma graduates into the ranks of Columbia Bank.

“For years Melanie served on the Chancellor’s Advisory Board, often encouraging other Columbia Bank executives and colleagues to volunteer on various Advisory Boards across campus. Her thoughtfulness, humility, and generosity as a community leader and exceptional mentor—especially for women pursuing business careers and leadership roles—has been enormously admired and will be immensely missed.”

At its 2016 Business Leadership Awards, the UW Tacoma Milgard School of Business presented Dressel with a Lifetime Achievement Award. A video shown during the event conveys what many felt about Dressel’s leadership style and impact on the community.

(A memorial service for Melanie Dressel will be held at 11 a.m., March 11, 2017, at Bellarmine Preparatory High School, 2300 S. Washington St., Tacoma. A reception will follow in Bellarmine's Connelly Hall. The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to support UW Tacoma student scholarships and campus improvement.)

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Written by: 
John Burkhardt / February 21, 2017
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or johnbjr@uw.edu