$1 million gift from John A. See will inspire and reward great work at WSU
See hopes the award will spur others to support university’s groundbreaking projects
John See, left, with James Rhatigan, WSU Foundation consultant, and Linda Constable, See's attorney, has made a $1 million commitment to Wichita State to encourage and reward work in prototype development.
When John A. “Jack” See was recognized at a recent WSU Foundation meeting for making a $1 million gift to Wichita State, he directed his comments to WSU President John Bardo, sitting a few feet away.
Yes, See acknowledged, he hoped the gift would make a difference in the lives of many. But he also hoped it would shine a light on the great work being accomplished at Wichita State to help attract investors vital to advancing that work.
“I can help bring attention to the projects that deserve it,” he said later, “but I hope this gift will inspire additional investors and supporters to these projects once they are brought into awareness.”
See’s donation — the third substantial gift he has made to WSU in the past seven years — will establish the John A. See Research Award, a prize given to faculty and students conducting outstanding research or producing other significant work. Awards would be made as warranted and could vary widely in amount.
James Rhatigan, WSU Foundation consultant who is a neighbor and friend of See’s, recalled with a smile how he learned of See’s intentions. The two were leaving a neighborhood get-together last September when See told Rhatigan he was interested in making a new gift to Wichita State.
“I asked Mr. See if he had an amount in mind,” Rhatigan said. “He said, ‘I think I could do $1 million.’ I said, ‘You have my attention.’”
See, who was director of flight test and prototype development at Boeing until his retirement in 1985, told Rhatigan he was interested in supporting research and other work aimed at improving the quality of life for many. Rhatigan knew that a number of faculty members at WSU were engaged in that kind of work.
“This is the kind of award that helps create a campus culture that very strongly endorses research with significant impact.”
- WSU President John Bardo
Initially, Rhatigan submitted three research projects to See to illustrate the kind of grand work that could be supported with his investment. While impressed by those projects, See eventually chose to create a fund to inspire and reward a variety of projects, which would be selected by the university.
“Although it’s expected that most awards would go to faculty doing advanced scholarly work, Mr. See wants any idea to be eligible for consideration, including that done by students,” Rhatigan said.
Bardo called See’s gift exciting and influential.
“This is the kind of award that helps create a campus culture that very strongly endorses research with significant impact,” Bardo said. “We are trying to encourage our faculty to step out and do something really big, something that creates value beyond the campus. This award really speaks to that.”
See has been a generous supporter of Wichita State. In 2007, he created the John A. See Endowed Health and Emergency Fund, which helps students with emergency medical expenses not covered by insurance. In 2011, he created the John A. See Engineering Scholarship, providing nine scholarships a year to juniors and seniors.
Born in Nevada, See grew up in New York. He was married for 60 years to Jane See, and has a daughter and a grandson. His son, John See Jr., died in 2012
If you would like to help WSU be its best, please contact Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president for planned and annual giving, at 316-978-3804 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Expanded Version: This story is an expanded version of the original print edition.