Center News

Heather West Endowment Fund Celebrates Her Love of the American West

Together with Stanford Athletics and the West family, we are pleased to announce the successful creation of an endowed memorial fund to permanently commemorate Heather West’s love of the American West. We give thanks to the outpouring of support from her classmates, friends, family, and generous donors.

The newly created Heather West Endowment Fund will provide ongoing support for several programs that allow Stanford undergraduates to experience the American West firsthand. The Heather West fund will enable students to participate in:


  • Field courses across the West, like our recent Sophomore College that led 15 students on a journey across public lands in the Southwest,
  • On-campus courses, like our keystone interdisciplinary course, The American West, which is taught by five distinguished faculty from five Stanford departments;
  • Summer internships at organizations across the West, from Yosemite to Yellowstone, Denver to Los Angeles.

Through this fund, Heather’s passion for the outdoors, for the natural world, and for our region will live on through the experiences of students today, tomorrow, and in the future. Whether swimming down rapids in the Grand Canyon, captaining a champion water polo team, or helping Stanford students have lasting experiences across the region, Heather Carr West, ’09 lived up to her name in every way.


Heather Carr West, 1987-2017

It was our privilege to work with Heather Carr West, Stanford '09, who spent 2010-12 with the Center as our Program and Research Associate. In addition to supervising our summer interns and leading the 2011 Sophomore College field course down the Colorado River, Heather blazed the trail for our first annual hike from Stanford to the Sea. While with the Center, she also took time to pursue her own study of water use in the craft brewing industry.

As befitted her name, Heather was dedicated to and passionate about the lands and people of the North American West. On her way to Yale in 2012 to pursue a dual degree in business and forestry, Heather regaled us with photographs from her cross-country road trip and returned to the West often to pursue field work.

A vibrant presence and a tremendous athlete who twice captained the women's water polo team at Stanford, Heather was diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer in the fall of 2014. During her battle against the disease that she documented extensively online, Heather completed her dual master's degrees at Yale. On May 21, 2017, she passed away at home with her family in Davis. 

We hope you will share our heartfelt condolences with her family and our grief at this tremendous loss.

Heather was honored at a memorial in Davis on June 10. In her honor, the West family suggested contributions to a named fund to permanently celebrate her love of the West.


A Remembrance from Center co-founder David M. Kennedy
The joke at the Lane Center was that Heather got the job as our first Program and Research Associate because of her last name.
But it soon became apparent that Heather was no joke – but she sure was a lot of fun. Among her first assignments was putting together all the arrangements for our now-famous 2011 Sophomore College on the history and management of the Colorado River. She researched and negotiated with the rafting company that got us down the river; set up interviews with the superintendent of Grand Canyon National Park and the manager of the Southern Nevada Water Authority, among other officials; booked travel and lodging for all participants, and professionally executed a thousand other tasks. On the river, she was a splendid leader and full of derring-do: she swam every swimmable rapid (and some not so swimmable – at least by ordinary mortals); climbed every mesa; leaped into the water off every promontory, and in general was the most boon of companions and an inspiration to all.
Read about Sophomore College 2011 in the Stanford Alumni Magazine

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