Velma Wallace’s $6 million estate gift to WSU Foundation — an investment in Shockers’ futures

Velma Wallace visiting with Allison Ronning
Velma Wallace visited with Allison Ronning at a Wallace Invitational for Scholarships in Engineering event in 2010. Ronning, a Wallace Scholar, graduated in 2012, majoring in aerospace engineering and is now attending graduate school at WSU.

The legacy Velma and Dwane Wallace created at Wichita State and that Velma nurtured and advanced after Dwane’s death in 1989 will prevail and endlessly thrive with Velma’s $6 million estate gift.

   “She was an icon in our community because she supported so many worthwhile non-profit organizations and special initiatives,” said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation. “But dearest to her heart was the Wallace Scholar program and the emotional investment she made in her students, in addition to the financial commitment to their futures.”

   More than half of the estate gift will be added to the Dwane L. and Velma L. Wallace Endowment Fund, benefiting engineering students and the College of Engineering.

   “Her estate gift will ensure that the Wallace Scholars program can continue the Wallace legacy as well as enable it to grow well into the future,” said Vish Prasad, interim dean of the College of Engineering.

   About 39 students — freshmen to seniors, received scholarships from this fund during the past academic year. It has not been decided whether the number of students or the amount per scholarship will increase.

   “Wallace Scholars should be going above and beyond the requirements for regular scholarship students,” said Elisa Acosta, a current Wallace Scholar, “and should be examples to the college of scholarship, leadership, service and community.”

   Acosta is a WSU senior, majoring in aerospace engineering and minoring in mathematics. She is a fourth-year Wallace Scholar and president of the Wallace Scholars group.

   “The scholarship is more about what we do, not about how much we get from it,” said Acosta. “I hope I can one day be even half the philanthropist and woman she was.”

   Jim Johnson, one of the Wallaces' sons-in-laws, believes it is important to impart to WSU alumni the concept of giving back or paying forward and using his in-laws as role models.

   “With the positive experiences students received as a direct result of Mr. and Mrs. Wallace’s generosity, I hope they leave with a feeling that they want to help future students receive what they did.”

   “During college, I was able to serve all four years on the Wallace Scholar Council, which helped improve the requirements for the scholarship and welcome new scholars aboard,” said Joan Wagner, former Wallace Scholar and current program manager for the Spirit/Boeing Cost Reduction Team at Spirit AeroSystems Inc.

   When asked what Wagner learned from Velma Wallace, she said, “Making a difference where you can. Although I don’t have the financial means that she had, I still support where I can, and that is why I am so proud of the Wallace Alumni Legacy Scholarship that was set up by the Wallace Scholars to honor Mr. and Mrs. Wallace, and to help support another group of students who are trying to complete the engineering education.”

   Though engineering was the Wallaces’ first love, they gave generously across campus, which is echoed by other portions of her estate gift going to the School of Music in the College of Fine Arts, the College of Education and WSU athletics.

   A portion of the gift to the School of Music will create the largest single endowed scholarship in music.

   “Velma Wallace was a true force for good in Wichita and Kansas, not just in the aerospace industry but also with her support for cultural and social institutions,” said Rodney Miller, dean of the College of Fine Arts.

   Though the Wallaces' focus never shifted far from students’ financial challenges, they fully understood the need for funds to purchase equipment, pay for travel and continue the education of WSU’s faculty.

   In addition to renewable scholarships, “The gift will also provide funds to help faculty keep abreast of the best practices in K-12 education and active living programs such as sport management and athletic training,” said Sharon Hartin Iorio, former dean of the College of Education.

   Through the years Velma Wallace touched a multitude of lives. She made future-changing impacts that some of us only dream about. And now, her belief in Wichita State, her inspiration and this final act will continue to shape and grow our people and our university.


circle arrow If you would like to establish a scholarship or assistance fund to help deserving engineering students, please contact Megan Smith, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Engineering, at (316) 978-3803 or at

Velma Wallace

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