With gift from Dorothy Froning, students will travel the world

The retired WSU Spanish professor bequeathed $300,000 to the university she loved


Dorothy Froning

No one could say that Dorothy Froning didn't have a life of adventure.

   She joined the WAVES — Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service — during World War II and served with a Naval Intelligence Unit until the war ended.

    She studied Spanish for a time at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala, traveling there on a United Fruit banana boat.

   She completed her Ph.D. in Spain and, while head of the department of romance languages at Wichita State University, traveled often to Mexico to direct the summer program in Puebla. After retiring in 1981, she and her husband, Harold, traveled extensively around the world.

   But her biggest passion was teaching, and she always felt grateful to Wichita State for giving her opportunities to do just that. When she died last March at the age of 97, she left in her estate a $300,000 gift to endow the Dorothy and Harold Froning Scholarship for WSU students majoring in Spanish.

    “She had a wonderful life, an exciting one, really, but she was extremely proud of Wichita State,” said John Koppenhaver, retired Spanish professor and chairman of the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literature at Wichita State. “She held the university in very high esteem, and I think this gift demonstrates that.”

    Koppenhaver and Froning were colleagues for 15 years before she retired. He worked another 23 years at Wichita State before retiring in 2004.


"A very substantial gift like this translates into many more opportunities for students. It makes a big difference in enrollment and outcomes.”

Wilson Baldridge, chairman of the WSU Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literature

    “In all that time, I don’t think I ever heard a negative word about Dorothy,” he said. “She was brilliant, respected, strong — but everybody always referred to her as a real lady. She was a great teacher because her students respected her, and she got what she expected from them.”

   Froning knew that one of the most important experiences for language students was to travel and live for a time in countries that were home to the language they were studying. In 1997, she established the Dr. Dorothy S. Froning Academic Travel award to help pay the travel expenses of language students.

   “She devoted her whole life to her students,” Koppenhaver said. “She was much more interested in teaching than writing or publishing because she knew teaching was what affected her students most.”

    The scholarship she established upon her death also will help students study abroad, said Wilson Baldridge, department chairman.

    “Students need functional proficiency, so traveling to those countries where the languages are spoken is vital,” he said. “A very substantial gift like this translates into many more opportunities for students. It makes a big difference in enrollment and outcomes.”

  Dorothy Froning was born on April 8, 1914, in Cosby, Mo. She graduated from Park College in Missouri in 1936 with a double major in English and French, and a minor in Spanish. In 1947, she received her master's degree in Spanish from the University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa, accepting a position as assistant professor of Spanish at the University of Wichita. She completed her Ph.D. in 1961 and took the position of chairperson for the department of romance languages at WSU.

   In 1979, she received the George A. Lewis Award for Creativity and Innovation in Teaching, given by the Fairmount College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She was listed in the 5th edition of Who's Who of American Women.


circle arrow For more information about establishing a planned gift, contact the WSU Foundation’s planned giving staff at (316) 978-3809 or go to www.wichita.edu/plannedgiving. If you would like to establish a scholarship for deserving students, please contact Terre Johnson, WSU Foundation vice president for major gifts, at (316) 978-380 or at terre.johnson@wichita.edu.


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