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Shock the World Campaign
In This Issue


WSU students benefit from Janice Chambers Ramsey’s estate gift – 20 years after her death

Wichita State Madrigals perform at spring 2018 scholarship celebration hosted by WSU Foundation.

Vocal music students at Wichita State University are eligible for two generous new scholarships because an alumna who graduated 83 years ago was so grateful for her education she wanted to help future students have a similar experience.

Janice Chambers Ramsey earned a bachelor’s degree in music performance in 1935 from what was then the University of Wichita. She married Hugh Ramsey, a civil engineer, had a son named Robert, and taught music in the Baltimore County school system until her retirement.

Ron Matson &
Ashley Cheung
A 1930s publicity photo of Janice Chambers Ramsey.

Along the way, Ramsey created a trust to ensure that Robert, institutionalized for most of his life, would receive the care he needed after her death. She designated that, upon Robert’s death, any funds remaining in the trust would go to WSU’s vocal music programs in the College of Fine Arts.

Ramsey died in 1998. Twenty years later, following her son’s death earlier this year, Wichita State is the beneficiary of a gift of more than $500,000 that that will endow two scholarships, one in vocal music and the other in musical theatre. The annual award for each scholarship will be about $9,500.

“She had the foresight many years ago to make arrangements that would help improve what she knew was already a very good program at Wichita State,” says Ramsey’s nephew, Eric Engstrom, the longtime trustee for his aunt’s trust. “Because of that, these scholarships will play a significant role in attracting top-quality students to the university.”

Engstrom, a retired Wichita lawyer who earned a master’s degree at WSU in 1966, recalls his aunt as having an excellent singing voice. She performed as a singer with the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall in the late 1930s and appeared on Broadway in various choruses.

“She was very proud of the music department at Wichita State and whenever I talked with her by phone, she always wanted to know what was new at the university,” Engstrom says. “She was a charming lady who was an inspiration to her students.”

Ramsey’s gift is a striking example of how people can make a significant impact on the causes they support through planned giving, says Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president.

“It’s both powerful and poignant to think that Mrs. Ramsey took this step more than 20 years ago, knowing that someday she would make a difference at her alma mater,” Lamb says. “And now that day has arrived for our music programs.”

Engstrom, who also has arranged a gift through his estate for Wichita State, noted that he comes from a family with strong ties to WSU. His aunt’s sister and her husband both graduated from the University of Wichita, and both of his parents attended for several years.

“I grew up believing in Wichita State and I still value the important role it plays, not only in the lives of students but also our community,” says Engstrom, a longtime philanthropic supporter of the university.

For more information

If you would like to learn more about how to establish a planned gift for Wichita State, contact Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president, at 316-978-3804 or

mike lamb