The Fort Hays State University Foundation has received a $2 million gift from the estates of sisters Marva Lange and Dorothy Lange.
"This is the third largest estate gift ever received by FHSU and will fund scholarships for students from Kansas," Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, said during a Tuesday morning news conference on the university campus.
The Lange sisters graduated from FHSU with bachelor's degrees in 1947 and master's degrees in 1952. Both enjoyed lifelong careers as teachers. They grew up on a farm near Simpson. Marva began teaching high school language arts in Greensburg and then spent most of her career teaching in Wichita at Wichita High School Northwest. Dorothy taught grade school in Cawker City, Phillipsburg and Belleville. Neither married or had children. Dorothy passed away in 2004 and left her estate to her sister. When Marva died in May 2009, FHSU officially became the beneficiary of nearly all of the estate.
President Hammond said that Donna Long of Beloit, a cousin of the Lange sisters, explained the reason for the gift. "They were big believers in Fort Hays State," Long said. "They were definitely interested in education and wanted to help young people go to college to be teachers and educators."
The president expressed the university's gratitude for the gift. "With the budgetary challenges we have experienced during the past 18 months, scholarship assistance now more than ever is a vital to our students' success," he said. "We are here for one central reason, which is to support and educate students who have dreams and aspirations for a better tomorrow. This sizable gift will enable us to offer our students more opportunities at a time when the cost of higher education is increasing due to state budget shortfalls."
The gift will be counted toward the Cornerstone Campaign, an ambitious fundraising effort being conducted by the FHSU Foundation that seeks to raise $60 million in support of the university by 2012.
Brooks Kellogg, an FHSU alumnus from Steamboat Springs, Colo., and co-chair of the campaign, noted the importance of the gift and its contribution to the campaign. "The Cornerstone Campaign will help underwrite needs across campus that will allow FHSU to continue to provide a first-rate education," Kellogg said. "The decision to leave this gift to FHSU was made many years ago, but we stand here today grateful that we can celebrate this act of generosity at a time when it's needed most. Not only do we recognize the generosity of these two women, but hope their gift will stir the waters for others to follow their example."