Wylie and Bette Aitken Awarded the 2014 Citizen of the Year Award by Chapman University

Wylie and Bette Aitken – Citizens of the Year Award

On November 1st Wylie and Bette were recognized for their kindness and generosity in supporting Chapman University at the American Celebration: Scholarships for Future Leaders.


‘Higher Education Was Our Gateway’

Through their bountiful commitment to philanthropy, Wylie and Bette Aitken have opened the doors to learning and the arts for countless young people in Orange County and beyond. For this dynamic couple, the question of why is easy to answer.

“Giving back is not just generosity; it’s a repayment to the society which nurtured us,” says Wylie, who is consistently recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in the nation and who helped found the highly respected firm of Aitken, Aitken, Cohn in Santa Ana.

“Bette and I are where we are today because of the help we got from others, the arts we had in school and the accessibility of education. Higher education was our gateway; we both were the first in our families to attend college. We have personally seen that higher education enriches us all.”

What better way to salute the Aitkens’ commitment to civic and philanthropic leadership than by honoring them with Chapman University’s Outstanding Corporate Citizens Award during this year’s American Celebration? After all, they are true visionaries in providing abundant access to the arts.

In addition to his leadership roles at Chapman on the Board of Trustees and the Dale E. Fowler School of Law Board of Advisors, Wylie serves on the Advisory Board for the Musco Center for the Arts. And now the gateway to that new centerpiece of artistic life at Chapman will bear the couple’s name. The center front plaza will proudly be called the Bette and Wylie Aitken Arts Plaza, complete with Bette’s Bistro, where performance attendees will be able to enjoy hors d’oeuvres and drinks prior to performances and functions.

But the couple’s support for Chapman is multi-layered. Their generous gift underwrites the Fowler School’s Family Violence Clinic, which addresses the unique challenges faced by survivors of domestic violence. The clinic offers free assistance in immigration, human trafficking and protection order matters for clients who meet income eligibility requirements.

In addition, Bette is a member of the Women of Chapman support group, and she and Wylie served as chairs for American Celebration in 2011.

The Aitkens’ story of achievement touches just about every aspect of service and community life in Orange County and throughout California. But they prefer to shift the focus outward as they encourage others to join them in giving back.

“It’s truly not about us,” Wylie says. “When we work together, we rise together as a society. Please help keep the gateway open!”