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Bloomfield Foundation's pledge of $2.5 million will help WSU's Innovation Campus succeed

The gift will establish the Sam Bloomfield Chair in Engineering Innovation

Posing for a photo after the announcement of a $2.5 million pledge from the Sam & Rie Bloomfield Foundation are (l-r) WSU Foundation President & CEO Elizabeth King, Bloomfield Foundation Trustee Bill Lucas, WSU College of Engineering Dean Royce Bowden, John Tomblin, Sam Bloomfield Chair in Aerospace Engineering, and WSU President John Bardo.
Posing for a photo after the announcement of a $2.5 million pledge from the Sam & Rie Bloomfield Foundation are (l-r): WSU President John Bardo, WSU Foundation President & CEO Elizabeth King, Bloomfield Foundation Trustee Bill Lucas, WSU College of Engineering Dean Royce Bowden and John Tomblin, Sam Bloomfield Chair in Aerospace Engineering.

When trustees of the Sam and Rie Bloomfield Foundation decided to pledge $2.5 million to Wichita State University to establish the Sam Bloomfield Chair in Engineering Innovation, their inspiration came directly from the foundation’s namesakes.

    “We felt that the concept of an Innovation Campus was something that both Sam and Rie would be eager to support,” says Verlon McKay, president of the foundation’s trustees. “Sam would not only want to be involved in the innovation emphasis of the program, but he’d want to know that the right people are leading it. The person who holds this chair will be one of those people.”

Bill Lucas, another Bloomfield Foundation trustee, joined WSU leaders and representatives from the WSU Foundation at a news conference Oct. 2 unveiling the gift, the largest to date from the Bloomfield Foundation.

The foundation has a long history of supporting Wichita State, primarily in the areas of engineering and the arts. In 2006, the foundation made its second highest pledge of $2 million to establish the Sam Bloomfield Chair in Engineering.

WSU President John Bardo, who initiated the push to develop the Innovation Campus, said the Innovation Chair will play a leading role.

“The Sam Bloomfield Chair in Engineering Innovation will have an astounding impact on Wichita State,” he said. “The person who holds this position will help establish a technology-based economy that will reach far beyond Wichita State and south-central Kansas.”

Royce Bowden, dean of the College of Engineering, also lauded the gift, which will help WSU recruit an engineering mind of the highest caliber.

“We are creating new ways of thinking to integrate entrepreneurship and project-based innovation learning into engineering education,” Bowden said. “The holder of the Sam Bloomfield Chair in Engineering Innovation will be instrumental to our efforts.”

The Bloomfield Foundation’s relationship with Wichita State has helped to advance the university and position it for even greater achievements, said Elizabeth King, president and CEO of the WSU Foundation.

“This new pledge demonstrates a confidence and a trust in our vision, our leadership and our success,” King said.

An aeronautical engineer, Sam Bloomfield was president of Swallow Airplane Company, based in Wichita, from 1934 to 1956. He and his wife, Rie, moved to California in the 1950s but maintained strong ties to Wichita, said McKay, of Newport Beach, Calif., where the foundation is based.

“I would estimate that 95 percent of the Bloomfield Foundation’s contributions go to the Wichita community, and a large portion of that to Wichita State,” said McKay, a 1961 WSU graduate. “Sam and Rie had a great affection for Wichita.”