Rhatigan Student Center ballroom to be renamed in honor of First Lady Shirley Beggs

Celebrating the ballroom for Shirley Beggs
Celebrate! Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO; First Lady Shirley Beggs, Jim Rhatigan, WSU consultant; Velma Wallace and WSU President Don Beggs toast to the naming of the Shirley Beggs Ballroom.

The ballroom in the Rhatigan Student Center is the popular meeting place for many professional and social gatherings for Wichita State students, faculty and staff, and the Wichita community. Next spring it will be part of the Rhatigan Renewal – and its new name will honor our First Lady, Shirley Beggs.

"How special of our donors to recognize
me in this way. It makes all my work
very worthwhile."

First Lady
Shirley Beggs


One of the early ideas for the ballroom came from Jim Herrman, Rhatigan Student Center (RSC) director, who felt it would be appropriate to name the ballroom for Beggs because she and the president entertain there so often.

“There is not a better hostess, ambassador and representative of our university than Shirley,” said Elizabeth King, WSU Foundation president and CEO. “Completing the fundraising to create the Shirley Beggs Ballroom, during the last months of the Beggs’ tenure, would be most gratifying and would recognize Shirley’s significant impact on WSU.”

The namesake of the ballroom was a key factor when Jim Rhatigan, WSU Foundation consultant, began soliciting funds. He is champion of the Foundation’s fundraising campaign to raise 10 percent of the total $33 million Rhatigan Renewal project.

“It is easy to understand why people respond so positively to Shirley,” said Rhatigan. “She is a happy, outgoing and wholly authentic woman. Her focus always is on others, a rare and very effective quality.”

The first time Beggs saw the plans, she made suggestions only because she has held many events there over the last 13 years and knew some changes that needed to be made. She believed they would make the operations of the ballroom more workable for everyone using it over the next 50 years. But, she didn’t know about the new name.

“When I was told, I burst into tears,” said Beggs. “Never in my wildest imagination did I dream of anything being named for me. It is a total honor and something I will cherish for the rest of my life.”

Though a widespread appeal for the $500,000 ballroom renovation and expansion has yet to begin, according to Rhatigan, Velma Wallace readily agreed to give the lead gift. Additional gifts to-date have come from John and Kaye Morse, Mickey Armstrong, Don and Elizabeth King and Don and Shirley Beggs. Currently, nearly $350,000 have been raised and additional gifts are pending.

“Elizabeth King introduced me to Shirley about 10 years ago at a social event,” said Wallace. “It was the beginning of a great relationship. Our friendship has continued to deepen as we have shared many experiences.

“The renaming of the ballroom will be a lasting recognition of Shirley’s personal impact on Wichita State University, its students, extended WSU community and the City of Wichita.”

The ballroom will be expanded to 7,810 square feet and will be able to be divided into two rooms with soundproof partitions between. There will be a meeting room to the east, a spacious lounge to the north and an adjoining patio where people can look out onto the campus.

© 2014 Wichita State University Foundation

Wichita State University Foundation is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and donations are tax-deductible to the full extent allowed by law.