WSU Foundation announces $35 million campaign goal, largest outright gift

9:28:54 AM CDT - Friday, October 21, 2005

When the WSU Foundation announced earlier this month its $35 million goal for a campaign that will focus on people, it also announced the largest outright gift ever given to the university.

The lead gift in the We are Wichita State campaign is $8.5 million from the personal estate of W. Frank Barton, who co-founded Rent-A-Center. With that lead gift, the We are Wichita State campaign, which was launched July 2004, has received nearly $21 million. The campaign is to conclude by July 2007.

The record-setting Barton estate gift will fund three distinguished faculty chairs in the business school, which was named for W. Frank Barton in 1987 when he donated $3 million and made the commitment to provide for the school with gifts from his and his wife Patsy's estates.

"It is my family's desire that this gift will help create the programs and provide the necessary resources to further strengthen and carry out the mission of the Barton School for decades to come," said Craig Barton. "My father believed strongly in the entrepreneurial spirit. I am extremely proud to have the preeminent business school in Kansas and a leader in entrepreneurial education named after my father."

The $8.5 million gift will be supplemented by the state's Faculty of Distinction program. In the faculty of distinction program created by the Legislature, the state supplements a gift annually with the interest earned on the same amount of the original gift.

After raising money for buildings, which included the renovation of Koch Arena, funded by a $6 million outright gift, the Foundation decided to focus on increasing resources for people at WSU.

The campaign will concentrate on developing support for undergraduate scholarships, graduate fellowships and faculty support funds including endowed professorships and chairs.

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