The legacy Velma and Dwane Wallace created at Wichita State and that Velma nurtured and advanced after Dwane Wallace's death in 1989 will live in perpetuity with Velma Wallace's $6 million estate gift to the Wichita State University Foundation.
More than half of the estate gift will be added to the Dwane L. and Velma L. Wallace Endowment Fund, benefiting engineering students and the College of Engineering.
About 39 students — freshmen to seniors, received scholarships from this fund during the 2012-13 academic year. It has not been decided whether the number of students or the amount per scholarship will increase.
"The scholarship is more about what we do, not about how much we get from it," said Elisa Acosta, WSU senior and fourth-year Wallace Scholar majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in mathematics. "I hope I can one day be even half the philanthropist and woman she was."
Helping the future
Jim Johnson, one of the Wallaces' sons-in-laws, believes it is important to impart to WSU alumni the concept of giving back or paying forward and using his in-laws as role models.
"With the positive experiences students received as a direct result of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace's generosity, I hope they leave with a feeling that they want to help future students receive what they did."
Joan Wagner, former Wallace Scholar and current program manager for the Spirit/Boeing Cost Reduction Team at Spirit AeroSystems Inc., was asked what she learned from Velma Wallace.
"Making a difference where you can," said Wagner. "Although I don't have the financial means that she had, I still support where I can, and that is why I am so proud of the Wallace Alumni Legacy Scholarship that was set up by the Wallace Scholars to honor Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, and to help support another group of students who are trying to complete the engineering education."
Though engineering was the Wallaces' first love, they gave generously across campus, which is echoed by other portions of her estate gift going to the School of Music in the College of Fine Arts, the College of Education and WSU athletics.
Through the years Velma Wallace touched a multitude of lives.
She made future-changing impacts that some of us only dream about. And now, her belief in Wichita State, her inspiration and this final act will continue to shape Wichita State and those who walk its campus.