People of SU

The Gift of Expanding Opportunities

Written by Tina Potterf

September 26, 2023

Pagliacci Pizza owners at Capitol Hill location

Image credit: Yosef Kalinko

Michelle, '98 MBA, and Matt Galvin at Pagliacci Pizza's Pike Street restaurant.

Michelle, ’98 MBA, and Matt Galvin, co-owners of Pagliacci Pizza, create a new scholarship endowment for Rainier Scholars at SU. 

Michelle and Matt Galvin are big proponents of giving back to their community in ways that support access to higher education—and setting up future success—for underrepresented youth. 

Co-owners, along with Patrick McDonald, of Pagliacci Pizza, the Galvins are passionate about disrupting the school-to-prison pipeline and abolishing barriers that limit opportunities for those seeking to go to college. 

Recently they established a scholarship endowed by Pagliacci Pizza benefiting the Rainier Scholars program. This is the second endowment for the Galvins and Pagliacci—the first was created in the Albers School of Business and Economics, where Michelle earned her MBA in 1998—for a needs-based business student to study abroad, an experience of travel and learning that Matt attributes to being transformational in his own life. 

For Matt, he thinks of his father Michael Galvin, ’59, who didn’t have the same opportunities he had when a student to study abroad as Michael had to focus on work and securing loans to pay for tuition. Others who might be in the same position shouldn’t be prohibited from learning abroad due to finances, says Matt.

“I was able to study abroad and lived abroad in Italy. It felt like it made lots of sense to help students have these types of life experiences."

Their decision to invest in the creation of an endowment for Rainier Scholars—a program that offers a pathway to college graduation and career success for underrepresented students of color—aligns with their philosophy of giving back in impactful ways that create opportunities for the disenfranchised and first-generation and BIPOC students. In September 2020, Seattle University signed a memorandum of understanding with Rainier Scholars that ensures that the university will meet the full demonstrated financial need for every Rainier Scholar admitted to SU. 

The Galvins also support various community organizations, such as Community Passageways, which helps at-risk youth. 

“One of our core values is to do the right thing. It comes from our founder (Dorene McTigue). We feel fortunate to be part of the community in the greater Seattle area and feel a responsibility to give back,” says Michelle, who also chairs SU’s Board of Regents, and notes that Pagliacci provides a food/pizza delivery and operates a soup kitchen to help combat food insecurity. 

“To amplify what Michelle was saying, the organizations we support our doing incredible work to make our communities better—for the disenfranchised—and it’s the right thing to do and important work to do,” adds Matt.

And, notes Michelle, “the fact that there are no endowed scholarships for Rainier Scholars” was a motivating factor to create this endowment. “Hopefully we are leading the way.”

“We are big believers and supporters of furthering one’s education outside of high school and are aware of the challenges and the costs,” says Matt. “The value of a college education is immense and expands your worldview.”

Both Matt and Michelle give reverence to Dorene McTigue, the previous longtime owner of Pagliacci Pizza, who for years has been a strong and generous supporter to Seattle University and other organizations throughout the region. For 15 years McTigue served on the SU Board of Regents and has provided philanthropic support to various programs and schools, from the SU Fund to the Student Center, the Chapel of St. Ignatius to the Albers School of Business and Economics. 

And though the Galvins have owned the pizza chain for the past 23 years, Matt was not looking to invest in a pizza business initially. Though he worked in a pizzeria growing up, the “idea of owning one didn’t seem something I was really interested in doing. … But I fell in love with the business, the diversity of employees, the pace, it was all really intoxicating.” 

The Galvins’ advice for others considering creating an endowment or contributing to an existing scholarship or program is to just do it. 

Says Michelle, “It’s a lot easier than you think to set this up. And the university benefits deeply from this type of partnership and we benefit. It continues to give back.”

You can contribute to the Pagliacci Rainier Scholars fund here (mark the designation as "Pagliacci Rainier Scholars fund.") Interested in creating your own Rainier Scholars endowment? Contact Christa Callanan at 206-296-6965 or