WSU Foundation Spirit of the Gift biographies surpass 1,000
Jun 19, 2012 4:00 PM | Print

From a suggestion in 2006 by Carolyn Harrison, a Wichita State University Foundation National Advisory Council member, the Spirit of the Gift project was born.

The project, to document histories of the donors and namesakes of WSU endowed funds, has now exceeded 1,000 biographies.

WSU President Don Beggs immediately recognized the potential of the idea and ran with it.

Don Beggs
Don Beggs
"Students, especially scholarship recipients, were asking for information on donors and their intents," said Beggs. "Spirit of the Gift was the ideal response to those requests."

The catalog of brief historical sketches provides scholarship recipients, parents and other interested parties with information about who created university gifts, why and sometimes for whom.

Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president for planned and annual giving, was first to oversee the project.

"The Spirit of the Gift biographies help bring together the people involved in endowed funds at WSU," said Lamb. "These accounts highlight the dreams of donors to perpetuate the life-changing experiences found at Wichita State."

Natalie Olmsted, now director of development for KMUW 89.1, was the first student assistant to begin writing the biographies.

"I am honored to be a part of such a significant project," said Olmsted. "Sharing the history behind the scholarships and faculty funds at WSU is so important as it puts a face, a life behind what was once a name, only. When you learn why individuals gave back to the university, it makes the scholarship personal. You, as a recipient, are now part of the story, the history. That makes such an impact."

The fact that Spirit of the Gift began as an idea in a meeting just six years ago is a testament to how it fills a unique but necessary niche at WSU.

"The biography quantity is impressive, and the quality is excellent," said Beggs.

"Other universities and university foundations call and ask about Spirit of the Gift because it's a unique project that not only informs, but inspires," said WSU Foundation President and CEO Elizabeth King.

To learn more about Spirit of the Gift, visit

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Created on Jun 19, 2012 4:00 PM; Last modified on Jun 19, 2012 4:03 PM
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