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Jim Summers '70 endows faculty fellow position to honor his brother

Jim Summers
Jim Summers '70 continues his admiration of his brother, Kim, through a faculty fellow in Kim's name.

There was no debate regarding the subject of whether the Summers boys from Sabetha, Kan., would go to college. Their parents were adamant about it. So when their time came, each enrolled in a public university in Kansas. Unfortunately, Kim Summers never had the opportunity to use the valuable education his parents wanted for him. The summer between his junior and senior years, he and his girlfriend were killed by a drunken driver as they were coming home from a church activity.

The story doesn’t end there, however. His brothers continued their educations, graduating with one or more degrees and pursuing successful careers. Jim Summers chose Wichita State University, graduating in 1970 with a Bachelor of Business Administration, majoring in economics. A successful entrepreneur who has been giving back to his alma mater for 15 years, he recently decided he wanted to do something more, something different — something to honor his brother while planting a seed that would produce successful students year after year.

Jim and his wife, Elizabeth, created the Kim Summers Faculty Fellow in Accounting.

“In part, this fellowship honors Kim’s unfinished journey and life here in Kansas,” explained Jim, “and it can help provide some resources for teaching, which in turn will help future students pursue their dreams with an outstanding education here in Kansas.”

Robert F. Hartsook
Kim Summers, in his yearbook photo his sophomore year in college, will be remembered forever through a faculty fellowship at WSU established by his brother, Jim, and sister-in-law, Elizabeth.

Why accounting?

Though Kim didn’t major in accounting, it was one of the two most important undergraduate classes that Jim took, he said.

“You can’t run a business of any size without knowing the basic accounting skills,” said Jim, founder and co-owner with Elizabeth of Summers Estate Wines in Calistoga, Calif. “Accounting courses are vital and will help in whatever you choose in life.”

The other course was public speaking and Jim believes that students with those two disciplines can do well in life.

Why a faculty fund instead of a scholarship?

“In addition to our parents, teachers were the most important mentors in Kim’s short life,” Jim said.

He believes in the importance of recruiting and retaining outstanding professors who will have the opportunity to impact thousands of students’ lives.

“If our small fund can attract that caliber of faculty, it will create long-range advantages,” he said. “Obtaining an excellent faculty member is key to providing quality knowledge to students, which will in turn, benefit their lives and make them successful. They will look back with pride on their university and then, they, too, will give back. It’s a self-perpetuating process.”

What would Kim think?

“Though Kim would be embarrassed to be the center of attention with his name on this fund,” said Jim, “he would be proud. We all are.”