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Through an endowed scholarship, Ralph and Sue Vautravers give working students a boost

Ralph and Sue Vautravers
Ralph and Sue Vautravers think one of Wichita State’s best assets is being located in an urban setting with plentiful job opportunities for students working their way through college.

It hasn’t escaped the notice of Ralph and Sue Vautravers that many of Wichita State University’s most successful graduates — and now generous supporters — were once students who had to work their way through college.

That work, the Vautravers believe, helped to define everything about those students — their character, their business acumen, their outlook about life’s challenges and opportunities.

“If you look around campus, you’ll see some of their names on buildings, both outside and inside,” said Ralph Vautravers. “They stayed in Wichita after college, were successful entrepreneurs, and have been generous in support of the university. This is why we want to make a scholarship available to working students — so they also can graduate and become successful.”

After many years of philanthropic giving to Wichita State in a variety of areas, the Vautravers have endowed their first scholarship, specifying that it be awarded to students working at least 20 hours a week while taking at least 12 hours of classes.

That very description, incidentally, fits Ralph Vautravers, who earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Wichita while working almost full-time as a pressman. Several years after graduating, Vautravers founded his own printing company, Rand Graphics, which became the largest printer in Wichita.

The Vautravers would like their scholarship to help students who may not be likely candidates for some of WSU’s most prestigious academic awards, but who are, nonetheless, smart, ambitious and deserving of financial support.

“We can’t think of a better investment than to give back to education in a way that will help working students be successful in their lives,” Sue Vautravers said.

The Vautravers have been supporting Wichita State for more than three decades. Ralph served on the WSU Foundation board for two terms and now is a member of the National Advisory Council. He and Sue were honored in 2003 with the Fairmount Founders’ Award.

They have given significant gifts to a variety of projects and are also avid supporters of WSU athletics. Their newest gift, a scholarship bearing their names, will stand for decades to come as a symbol of their belief in the power of education and their commitment to Wichita State University.