Spirit of the Gift Biography Project

Histories of the men and women behind WSU's scholarships and fellowships

Watkins Visiting Professorship in Life Sciences at Wichita
State University

Mr. E.A. Watkins was vice president of Union National Bank of Wichita when he acquired a small iron foundry and wholesale hardware firm, which he built into Watkins Inc., a major steel fabrication and industrial supply company. His son, Mr. E. Leon Watkins, would eventually succeed his father as president of the company. A graduate of the University of Wichita in 1936, he and wife, Mrs. Roberta Watkins, met in a botany lab on campus. She graduated in 1936 as well, with a degree in biological science. Biography Home

After Mr. Leon Watkins passed away in 1971, Mrs. Watkins created the Watkins Visiting Professorship through a grant from the Watkins Foundation. Later, she would announce that the “sole project of the Watkins Foundation shall be the support of the visiting professorship.” Considered one of the most prestigious lecture series in the nation, the Watkins Visiting Professorship continues today as a lasting tribute to the Watkins family. Mrs. Watkins died in 2004.

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