For full functionality of this page, it is necessary to enable JavaScript. Here are the instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your web browser
Summer 2014 Horizon Header

       

Love of husband, passion for social work inspire gift to create new scholarship

Taunya Rutenbeck counsels at-risk adolescents and seeks ways to help underserved people in her career as a Licensed Master Social Worker.
Taunya Rutenbeck counsels at-risk adolescents and seeks ways to help underserved people in her career as a licensed master social worker.

There was no greater advocate for Taunya Rutenbeck than her husband, Larry. 

    When Rutenbeck, who was adopted as an infant, decided to explore her Native American ancestry, it was Larry who did much of the record requests and genealogy research to document her connection to the Prairie Band Potawatomi, Kickapoo and Sac and Fox tribes.

    When Rutenbeck considered returning to college in her 40s, Larry enthusiastically endorsed the idea, then watched proudly as she earned a bachelor’s degree in 2008 and a master’s degree in 2009 from the School of Social Work at Wichita State.

Larry Rutenbeck was a 1979 graduate of Wichita State with a Bachelor of Business Administration.
Larry Rutenbeck was a 1979 graduate of Wichita State with a Bachelor of Business Administration.

    Just weeks before he died, as the couple was visiting St. Louis in anticipation of moving there for Larry’s job, he got as excited as she did when they discovered that Washington University had an exemplary Ph.D. program in its School of Social Work.

    After Larry’s sudden death from a brain aneurysm in October 2013, Rutenbeck sought to memorialize him through a philanthropic gift. She created the Taunya Rutenbeck Fund for Social Work in Honor of Larry Rutenbeck at Wichita State to pay tribute to Larry’s love of learning and to support the school that led her down a new path in life.

    “My husband thought that this is what I was called to do,” she says of her social work career. “He loved research and he was as concerned as me about at-risk adolescents. I wanted to do something that would honor all of those things about him.”

    Larry also was a WSU graduate, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in 1979. He worked for Boeing for 30 years before his death.

    Rutenbeck would like to see their fund support Native American students, but if no applicants qualify, she wants it to help students working with at-risk youth. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the assistance.


“This fund provides a legacy for the vision of Taunya and Larry to support students who want to help others.”

- Brien Bolin

    “This is an important scholarship/ fellowship that clearly supports the school’s focus on diversity and culture as being central to social work values and ethics,” said Brien Bolin, chair of the School of Social Work. “Many students today have a desire to go into social work but might not be able to fund their entire education. This fund provides a legacy for the vision of Taunya and Larry to support students who want to help others.”

    As a social work entrepreneur, Rutenbeck has founded the Center for Social Work Innovation to seek creative ways to reach those who are underserved in the community. She is a licensed master social worker who works primarily with teenage girls. 

    “One of my goals is to identify ways to make sure kids have better outcomes in the system,” she said.

    Rutenbeck serves on several community and civic boards, including the Sedgwick County Juvenile Corrections Advisory Board, and is a mediator recognized by the Kansas Supreme Court. She has served on the WSU School of Social Work Advisory Board and also was an adjunct instructor for the school.

    For now, she has postponed her pursuit of a doctoral degree as she takes time to mourn her husband and stay close to her two grown sons, who live in Wichita. Whatever decision she ultimately makes about it, Rutenbeck knows that Larry would approve.     

 

Support the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Today

Questions about supporting the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts & Sciences?