Matching Gordon Parks challenge grant by year's end a priority

Photographer Gordon Parks


The push to match a challenge grant of $150,000 to help make Wichita State a global center for the study of Kansas artist Gordon Parks’ life is about $80,000 short of the mark, says Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation.

    “We are still seeking help from those who wish to make possible a profound addition to our fine art photography collection while also honoring a gifted native Kansan,” King said. “Enhancing the collection we already have will be a tremendous step forward in securing our position as an important authority on Gordon Parks’ life and art.”

    In August, Wichita philanthropists Paula and Barry Downing pledged $150,000 as a challenge grant to help Wichita State expand its Gordon Parks archive. Of the $150,000 that must be raised to match their gift, about $70,000 has been committed so far. The WSU Foundation has a goal of securing the rest by Dec. 31.

“Gordon Parks obviously is a very important person ... and the stature that he achieved in the art world is something we should celebrate.” 

- Mike Michaelis

    Mike and Dee Michaelis are among those who have pledged gifts so far. The couple strongly supports Wichita State’s efforts to build its Gordon Parks collection, which not only will bring prestige to the university but also will pay tribute to a great artist, said Mike Michaelis.

    “Gordon Parks obviously is a very important person, as far as Kansas is concerned, and the stature that he achieved in the art world is something we should celebrate,” said Michaelis, Emprise Bank chairman and member of the WSU Foundation National Advisory Council. “Our hope would be that Wichita State and the Ulrich Museum of Art become known around the world as a repository for his art and important papers.”

    The Ablah Library at Wichita State acquired the artist’s papers from The Gordon Parks Foundation in 2008. Additionally, Wichita State has acquired about 45 of Parks’ photographs from a variety of sources. The fundraising campaign underway now would add a substantial number of photographs to the university’s collection.

    “This purchase is really going to complement what the university has done to date,” Michaelis said. “We’re proud and pleased to be a part of it.”


circle arrow If you would like to help Wichita State build its Gordon Parks collection, please contact Diana Gordon, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Fine Arts, at 316-978-7307 or at

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