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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue

       

It’s all in the (Jackson) family


Cooper family
Bill Jackson is flanked by son Josh Jackson and daughter Piper Ayala. All three are proud alumni of Wichita State.

It started with a 15-second conversation between Bill Jackson and his daughter, Piper Ayala. Jackson had heard about Wichita State’s fundraising campaign to update Charles Koch Arena and to build a new academic/performance facility for student-athletes.

“I popped my head into her office one day and said, ‘We should think about contributing to that,’ ” says Jackson, who attended WSU for several years before founding his own company, now called Transitions Group. “She liked the idea, so we emailed Josh and he said he was in.”

Josh Jackson is Bill’s son and Piper’s brother, and all three share a deep-seated passion for Shocker basketball and baseball.

Wilson K. Cadman
Piper Ayala and Josh Jackson are pictured with their mother, Sherry Jackson, who died in 2009. WuShock visited Mrs. Jackson, an ardent Shocker fan, just a week before her death.

“Henry Levitt Arena and Koch Arena were a big part of our lives growing up,” says Piper, who earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Wichita State. “We’ve had season tickets for basketball and baseball for about 40 years.”

“By the time I came along, the decision had already been made that I would be a Shocker,” Josh says with a laugh. He also attended WSU for several years before going to work for Transitions Group.

The family’s combined gift of $200,000 provides them with a naming opportunity for the WSU Athletic Director’s office inside Charles Koch Arena.

Renovating the arena and building the new student-athlete center are among the top priorities of the WSU Foundation’s Shock the World Campaign, which seeks to raise a total of $250 million for the university. That includes about $13 million for the arena project and student-athlete center.

The Jackson family recognizes the fiercely competitive nature of college sports recruiting and the need to invest in WSU facilities to enhance recruiting efforts.

“If we’re going to compete at a higher and higher level, which is the plan now that we’re in a new conference, then we have to continue to strengthen all of our programs,” says Josh. “We think this is the perfect time to make a donation that will support that investment.”

It takes only a few minutes to see and feel the strong family bond that exists among Bill Jackson and his children. Much of that bond revolves around Shocker basketball, but a shared passion for music is also a force. They work together and play together, taking family vacations where it’s not uncommon to see them gathered around electronic devices to keep up with Shocker news.

“When the team is on the road, we’re constantly shooting texts to each other from our own homes while we watch the game,” says Bill, who lives most of the year in California.

Bill started his company 32 years ago as Furniture Options, which furnishes apartments for people in temporary lodgings, usually related to business. He expanded that to a company called Suite Options and then ExecuStay, which provides fully furnished corporate apartments. Transitions Group is the umbrella company, which includes Abode Venue, an event space near downtown Wichita.

Though sports is his main connection to Wichita State, as a businessman, Bill Jackson is also impressed by the progress being made on the WSU Innovation Campus.

“Athletics brings us recognition, but what’s going on with the Innovation Campus does the same thing,” he says. “It’s important to our city and our economy, and I think it’s going to bring a lot of distinction to Wichita.”

For more information

If you would like to learn more about supporting the Charles Koch Arena project, contact Alex Johnson, WSU Athletics development director, at 316-978-7493 or ajohnson@wichita.edu.

Aaron Winter