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Wichita State News

First WSU professorship in English department result of estate gift

Friday, January 16, 2009 | Share
Melba Hughes
Melba Hughes

The Wichita State University Foundation received an estate gift from Melba V. Hughes in the amount of $421,188, putting into motion the M.V. Hughes Professorship in English in the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

It is the first professorship in the English department and qualifies for the Kansas Board of Regents Faculty of Distinction program, which will supplement the payout of the fund, extending the impact of the contribution.

The fund will provide an annual salary stipend, in addition to possible research and professional travel support.

Hughes died Nov. 27, 2007. She left a legacy throughout her family, community and university.

She was a graduate of the University of Wichita in 1944, where she was active in student organizations and made many lifelong friends.

The 1943-44 edition of Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities listed Hughes as a psychology major who “will receive an A.B. Degree and plans to do Personnel Work.”

She served the university community as executive secretary of the student forum board, president and rush captain of Sorosis (now Delta Delta Delta) and treasurer of Women’s Panhellenic.

Hughes was a member of the YWCA cabinet and varsity committee, Alpha Epsilon, Young Republicans Club, Wheaties and Dean’s Honor Roll.

During her adult life, Hughes organized and hosted events including the Sorosis Centennial Reunion in 1997 and the Wichita Art Museum reopening in 2003. In 1994, as part of the WSU Campaign for Students, she graciously donated funds to create the Melba V. Hughes Endowed Scholarship.

Elizabeth King
Elizabeth King
“Melba was an absolute delight,” said Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO. “She was most dedicated to her family and loved her alma mater. She was very pleased to make the provisions for this gift.”

She married Oliver H. Hughes in 1948; they had three children, Marilyn, Steve and Mindy. In addition to Wichita, the family lived in Emporia, Topeka and Lake Pomona, Kan., returning to Wichita in 1987, where Oliver Hughes died the following year.

Hughes continued to enjoy travel, friends, children and grandchildren. In 2001, she married a college sweetheart also from Wichita, Vincent F. Hiebsch, who died in 2007.

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Created on Friday, January 16, 2009; Last modified on Thursday, February 05, 2009