Remembering Dr. Philip M. Phibbs


Museum of Glass joins family and friends in mourning the passing of Dr. Phil Phibbs, one of MOG’s founders. Dr. Phibbs pushed the idea of the Museum forward, leaving a deep impact on the world of glass and city of Tacoma. We’re grateful for his vision and stewardship. Learn more about his legacy and the founding of Museum of Glass.

Dr. Philip Monford Phibbs, former President of the University of Puget Sound from 1973-1992, passed away peacefully on March 21, 2022. Born in Bemidji, Minnesota, Dr. Phibbs was raised in Sumner where he attended high school before attending Washington State University where he received his Bachelor’s degree. He spent a year at Cambridge as a Rotary Foundation fellow before completing his Master’s degree and a Doctorate in politics at the University of Chicago. He spent 1957–58 as a Congressional fellow in Washington, D.C., where he worked in turn for Washington Senator Warren G. Magnuson and North Carolina Congressman L.H. Fountain. From 1961–1973, he taught political science at Wellesley College before serving as Executive Vice President. In 1973, he returned to Washington to take on the presidency of the University of Puget Sound.  During his service as Puget Sound’s eleventh president, he was the driving force behind the university’s development as a selective liberal arts college focused on academic excellence. 

Following his retirement from the University, he took on a new challenge after a conversation with his friend, Dale Chihuly in which they discussed the vision of a glass museum for Tacoma. He spent the next ten years helping to shepherd this vision into the reality with the Museum of Glass opening on July 6, 2002.

He held board leadership roles in many organizations including the Seattle Opera, the Museum of Glass, Charles Wright Academy, the Association of American Colleges, the American Political Science Association, the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, and the National Association of Schools and Colleges of the United Methodist Church. 

He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Gwen Phibbs, brother Clifford Phibbs, daughters Jennifer Raves and Diana Phibbs, seven grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He is preceded in death by his son, Dirk Andrew Phibbs and his daughter, Kathleen Elizabeth Phibbs.

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, April 9 at 1pm at the University of Puget Sound’s Kilworth Chapel, 3410 N 18th St, Tacoma. A reception will follow. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be directed to the Dirk Andrew Phibbs Memorial Fund and the Kathy Phibbs Memorial Fund at the University of Puget Sound at or by mail: University of Puget Sound, Office of Donor Relations CMB 1011, Tacoma, WA 98416 or to the Museum of Glass online at and using the donate button or by mail to: Museum of Glass, 1801 Dock Street, Tacoma, WA 98402.

Photo by Team Photogenic.