» Bette and Wylie Aitken

picture of a man and womanMr. Wylie Aitken is a nationally recognized trial lawyer and founding partner of the firm Aitken, Aitken & Cohn in Santa Ana. At 35, he was the youngest president in the history of the State Trial Bar and is consistently recognized as one of the top lawyers in the United States. 

Alongside being one of the most active members of Chapman University’s Board of Trustees, Mr. Aitken is currently:

  • a member of the Board of Trustees for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts;
  • past chair of the State of California’s Arts Council;
  • a member of the Presidents Circle for South Coast Repertory, where he was president of the South Coast Repertory Board of Trustees from 2008 to 2010;
  • a member of the Mission San Juan Capistrano Board of Directors;
  • a member of Cal State University Fullerton Philanthropic Foundation Board;
  • a member of Marquette University’s President’s Council;
  • chair of U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein’s Federal Judicial Advisory Committee for the Central District of California which recommends the appointment of Federal District Judges;   
  • a member Board of Trustees for the Democratic Foundation of Orange County, where he was chair for 17 years;
  • a member and former national chair of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Foundation;

This year, Mrs. Aitken was honored for her contributions as a civic leader in Orange County Business Journal’s Giving Guide as one of the Top Philanthropists in Orange County.

She has been:

  • a co-chair for The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation “World of Heroes;”
  • a board Member of the California State University, Fullerton Special Games;
  • a board Member for Paint Your Heart Out Anaheim.

She currently:

  • sits on the Board of Trustees for South Coast Repertory Theatre where she is vice president of community relations, and has been member of its Gala Committee since 2001, having chaired three separate galas;
  • is a member of the Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ “Angels of the Arts;”
  • is a member of Chapman University’s “Women of Chapman;”
  • works with Women in Leadership Orange County and Laura’s House, where she was honored for her work in 2007 as Woman of the Year;
  • serves on the “Muzeo” Board located in Anaheim.

In January of 2014, the couple named Chance Theater in Anaheim’s new home: The Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center.

At Chapman, Bette and Wylie Aitken have been supporters of the Fowler School of Law since its inception.  Not coincidentally, their generous philanthropic spirit, both in service and financial support, parallels the school’s meteoric rise. Mr. Aitken serves as the chairman of the school’s Board of Advisors, and the couple’s support for the law school includes: 

  • helping to fund the construction of Donald P. Kennedy Hall by naming the Wylie A. Aitken Trial Courtroom.
  • underwriting the Bette and Wylie Aitken Family Protection Clinic where law students offer free assistance to survivors of domestic violence in immigration, human trafficking and protection order matters under the close supervision of knowledgeable professors.
  • establishing the Center for Lawyering and Trial Advocacy to support research that explores the social, technological and legal aspects of trial practice.
  • Establishing the Bette and Wylie Aitken Distinguished Visiting Professorship which brings a prominent legal scholar to Chapman each year whose expertise compliments the strengths of the law school's existing class offerings.

Outside of the law school, Mr. and Mrs. Aitken worked hard to bring the university’s new world-class performance venue — Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts — to fruition.  Bette and Wylie chair the Artistic Advisory Board for Musco Center, and the couple named the Bette and Wylie Aitken Arts Plaza and Bette’s Bistro in support of its construction. They are also consistent supporters of Chapman’s American Celebration. They served as gala chairs for the event in 2011 and were honored as Chapman’s Citizens of the Year in 2014.

The Aitkens are the proud parents of three accomplished children and eleven grandchildren. Their daughter, Ashleigh, along with her husband Michael Penn (JD ’04), a Fowler Law School graduate, are chairing the 2016 “Chapman Celebrates” at the Musco Center.