Erach Talaty's estate gift is largest ever given by WSU faculty, staff

His $2.2 million gift will benefit WSU and chemistry

Dr. Erach Talaty
Erach Talaty taught at WSU from 1969 until his death in June at age 86. His estate gift is the largest ever given by a WSU faculty or staff member. 

The high regard and affection that students and colleagues had for WSU chemistry professor Erach Talaty has been reciprocated many times over with Talaty’s bequest that the bulk of his estate be left to Wichita State University.

    Talaty, who taught at WSU from 1969 until his death in June at the age of 86, had an estate that likely will result in a gift approaching $2.2 million, said James J. Rhatigan, consultant to the WSU Foundation. A friend of Talaty’s, Rhatigan is executor of his estate. The gift, Rhatigan said, is believed to be the largest bequest ever made to Wichita State by a WSU faculty or staff member, current or former.

    “Wichita State was his life,” Rhatigan said of Talaty. “He was an exceptional teacher, researcher, a person who was connected internationally.”

    Talaty specified that the funds be used in three ways: to establish a distinguished professorship in chemistry, to create an endowed scholarship for undergraduate students majoring in chemistry and to enhance the Dr. Erach Talaty Endowed Fellowship in Chemistry, a fellowship for graduate students established in his honor in 1999.

“Wichita State was his life.”

- James J. Rhatigan

    The gifts are an enormous boon to the chemistry department, said Department Chair David Eichhorn. Helping undergraduate students pay for their education was a matter of special importance to Talaty, he said.

    “Dr. Talaty’s interest in undergraduate students is well documented, as is the difficulty today’s undergraduate students have in finding the resources to fund an increasingly expensive college education. This new scholarship will certainly be a great help to the students.”

    Just as significant is the gift to create a distinguished professorship, Eichhorn said.

    “Dr. Talaty spent time as a post-doctoral scholar with a Nobel laureate in chemistry and he knew the importance of distinguished faculty to advance a department’s research effort,” he said.

    Talaty was born in Persia and received his degree in chemistry from Nagpur University (India) before moving to the United States and earning a second Ph.D. in chemistry from Ohio State University. He was a post-doctoral fellow with Nobel Prize-winning chemist Robert Woodward at Harvard.

    At the time, the chemistry department was transitioning from one focused predominantly on teaching into a strong research department. Talaty was a major contributor to that process, distinguishing himself as a researcher.

    As a teacher, he was much revered by his students, Eichhorn said.

    “For as long as I can remember, he was known for holding impromptu hours-long sessions with multiple students from his classes,” he said. “Above all, he was committed to making sure that his students walked away with an understanding of the material.”

    His dedication to his students was recognized by a number of awards, including WSU's Leadership in the Advancement of Teaching Award, and culminating with his being named by the Carnegie Foundation as the 1999 Kansas Professor of the Year.

    “The positive attitude, kindness and enthusiasm that he expressed for his students and friends inspired everyone around him,” said Amit Raghavan, a former student. “He was a uniquely gifted individual whose memory lives on in our hearts.”   

circle arrow If you would like to establish a legacy gift, please contact J. Michael Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president for planned and annual giving, at 316-978-3804 or at

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