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Koch entities pledge $11.25 million for Wichita State

Speakers and guests at a news conference held Dec. 16 to announce the gift were, from left, Eric Sexton, WSU athletic director; Meredith Olson, vice president for public affairs, Koch Companies Public Sector LLC; Royce Bowden, WSU dean of the College of Engineering; Steve Feilmeier, Koch Industries executive vice president and chief financial officer; Liz Koch, president of the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation; Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO; and WSU President John Bardo.
Speakers and guests at a news conference held Dec. 16 to announce the gift were, from left, Eric Sexton, WSU athletic director; Meredith Olson, vice president for public affairs, Koch Companies Public Sector LLC; Royce Bowden, WSU dean of the College of Engineering; Steve Feilmeier, Koch Industries executive vice president and chief financial officer; Liz Koch, president of the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation; Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO; and WSU President John Bardo.

In a gift commitment with sweeping impact, Koch Industries and the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation have pledged $11.25 million to create and advance programs at Wichita State University aimed at helping students excel and become the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and business leaders.

It will be the largest gift ever to the WSU Foundation from a corporate/foundation source and also represents the lead gift in the quiet phase of a comprehensive campaign underway at Wichita State, said Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO.

“What makes this gift particularly exciting is the breadth of its impact,” King said. “That impact will affect many different areas of campus academically, all of Wichita State's athletic programs and the economic vitality of our community and surrounding region.”

The total pledge of $11.25 million targets five areas of the university:

Maker Space. Funds totaling $3.75 million will help establish a Maker Space facility on the Innovation Campus.

Charles Koch Arena. Koch Industries will contribute $4.5 million to help expand and renovate the arena and related facilities.

Honors College. Koch will donate up to $1.54 million to create the Honors College Koch Scholars Program, a competitive award for high school seniors.

Koch Innovation Challenge. A gift of $1 million will support a program in which WSU students compete for funding and scholarships to invent products and technologies.

Koch Global Trading Center. Koch will contribute $460,000 to help pay costs associated with moving the center from Clinton Hall to the new building being planned to also house the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

The gift pledge makes good business sense for Koch Industries, said Steve Feilmeier, the company’s executive vice president and chief financial officer.

“Wichita is Koch Industries’ global headquarters and Wichita State is an important asset for us and the community,” said Feilmeier, who serves on the WSU Foundation Board of Directors. “We have many connections to the university including scholarships, academic and athletic support, and we hire many graduates from WSU every year. We want WSU to be successful and its teaching programs to be top tier.”

WSU President John Bardo described the gift as a substantial and far-sighted investment in both Wichita State and south-central Kansas.

“This transformative gift will have an impact on generations of Wichita State students,” Bardo said. “It is a tremendous investment in our vision of building a university that is internationally recognized as the model for applied learning and research.”

The Koch gift: How the $11.25 million pledge will be invested


 

Maker Space

Funds totaling $3.75 million from the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation and Koch Industries will help Wichita State establish a Maker Space facility on the Innovation Campus that is open to the public through memberships. A Maker Space is a cross between a business incubator, a manufacturing plant and a design studio — a place where people have access to sophisticated equipment and training, shared work spaces, expert advice and a community of like-minded people.

The Maker Space will be located in the Experiential Engineering Building, pictured here.

Experiential engineering building - exterior rendering
Click to enlarge.

Koch Industries and Wichita State collaborated on the idea of establishing an innovation lab that removes high-cost barriers so that aspiring entrepreneurs can build prototypes of their ideas and begin to commercialize them. WSU President John Bardo views this as an important way to stimulate economic growth in the region.

The gift pledge will provide scholarships and training stipends to qualifying applicants, as well as mentoring support through faculty fellowships.

“These scholarships, stipends and fellowships are what will make the Maker Space grow and thrive,” said Royce Bowden, dean of the WSU College of Engineering. “They will help create an entrepreneurial spirit and environment that feeds off itself and leads to real innovations that have tremendous potential to stimulate and grow our economy.”

Liz Koch, president of the Fred and Mary Koch Foundation, called the Maker Space “an incredible resource” for WSU students and the community.

“We have a special relationship with Wichita State that goes back many years but this is by far the most exciting thing we’ve done together,” said Koch. “Maker Space fits me like a glove because I’m determined to help young people stretch their minds and dream big.”

Charles Koch Arena

Exterior rendering of student athlete center
Click to enlarge.

Koch will contribute $4.5 million to help expand and renovate the facility named for Charles Koch in 2001 in recognition of his company’s $6 million gift to expand and improve what was then Henry Levitt Arena. Among improvements planned is a new Student Athlete Success Center, left, which would house academic support services, nutrition services, and personal and career development for all student athletes.

“We continue to be indebted to Charles Koch and the Koch Industries family for their belief in Shocker athletics,” said WSU Athletic Director Eric Sexton. “This extended commitment will allow us to build Shocker basketball to new heights while also supporting the continued success of all 15 intercollegiate sports.”

Honors College

Honors College dean with studentKoch will donate up to $1.54 million to create the Honors College Koch Scholars Program, a competitive award for high school seniors who plan to enroll in the Honors College and major in business or engineering. As many as 10 scholarships per year of up to $7,500 for in-state students and $15,000 for out-of-state students would be awarded beginning with the 2015-2016 academic year.

“We are grateful for the strong belief in the quality of WSU students that these scholarships demonstrate,” said Kimberly Engber, pictured right, dean of the Honors College. “To have this level of support from within the Wichita community makes the gift even more meaningful. I have no doubt that the new Honors Scholars Program will have an immediate impact on the student and faculty experience, fostering collaboration across business and engineering and modeling the power of academic inquiry combined with creative thinking.”

Koch Innovation Challenge

A view of the future of WSUA gift of $1 million will support an annual program in which WSU freshmen and transfer students compete for funding and scholarships to invent products and technologies. The College of Engineering will oversee the program aimed at fostering a culture of creativity, innovation, entrepreneurship and teamwork among WSU students. The Koch Innovation Challenge will begin in the 2016-2017 academic year.

“This program will be key to providing an environment for students that ignites curiosity, instills a desire for knowledge, awakens a passion for their chosen profession and inspires an enthusiasm to think big that will carry over into their career,” Bowden said.

Koch Global Trading Center

Interior rendering of new WSU Business School building
Click to enlarge.

Koch Industries will contribute $460,000 to help pay for costs associated with moving the center from Clinton Hall to the new building being planned to also house the W. Frank Barton School of Business. The trading center opened last July. Koch Industries provided the lead gift to establish the center, which helps educate students about financial and commodity markets. Construction of a new facility for the business school is expected to begin in 2017. At right is a rendering of the building's interior.