Moved by artist Gordon Parks, Shannon Michaud hopes her gift motivates others

Ted Ayres and Shannon Michaud
Ted Ayres, Wichita State’s vice president and general counsel, and Shannon Michaud pose with one of Gordon Parks’ photographs. Michaud made a $50,000 challenge grant gift, which must be matched before it can be used, to help pay for a series of events this year marking the 100th anniversary of Parks’ birthday.

 

When Shannon Michaud says she was “inspired” to make a substantial gift to Wichita State University, it’s easy to believe her. That word may get tossed around too casually sometimes, but Michaud is convincing.

Michaud has given $50,000 to the WSU Foundation to help pay for a series of events this year marking the 100th anniversary of Kansas artist Gordon Parks’ birthday. The gift is a challenge grant, which means it must be matched by other donations before it can be used. She’s also donated a large bronze sculpture with an estimated value of $300,000 to the WSU Foundation, which plans to sell it to endow the Gordon Parks Lecture Series.

“How can you not be inspired by Gordon Parks?” Michaud asks. “His photography, his films, his poetry — all of the accomplishments he made despite the struggles he had early in life, the disadvantages, the lack of education. I just marvel at it.”

She’s also moved by the vision and passion that Ted Ayres, Wichita State’s vice president and general counsel, has shown in leading efforts to acquire Parks’ letters and photographs. Ayres wants WSU to become a center for study and research on Parks’ life and contributions.

“Gordon Parks was one of us, he was a Kansan. We have so much to be proud of. We want people to get excited about this.”

Although neither she nor her late husband, Gerald Michaud, attended WSU, her daughter Cameron Drumright and her husband, Greg, are alumni. They are Wichita attorneys and became friends with Ayres after taking one of his classes. Cameron also had an internship with him.

Michaud says she and her husband always felt strongly about helping Wichita State, whether in athletics or in academics.

“Put back more than you take is how Gerald would put it,” she says. “I think inspiration is contagious. If you do something from your heart, hopefully others will be inspired by you.”

To learn how you can join Shannon Michaud and help meet her challenge grant, contact Diana Gordon, WSU Foundation director of development for the College of Fine Arts, at (316) 978-7307 or diana.gordon@wichita.edu.
 
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