Washburn Graduates and Business Tycoons Donate Six Million Dollars to Washburn University

Luke Warnken / Washburn Review

In today’s economy of pinching pennies and higher tuition rates, money has become an even more vital commodity to any teaching institution.

On April 27th, Washburn University President Jerry Farley and Washburn Foundation President JuliAnn Mazachek held a news conference in Mabee Library to announce that Washburn will be receiving a generous donation.

“A gift of this magnitude is truly transformational,” said Farley. “It will permit us to do some things that, without the gift, we wouldn’t have the resources to do otherwise.”

That gift was a large sum of a little over $6 million donated by Jacki Summerson and her late husband, Frank, who passed away a few years ago.

“We wanted to choose something we felt would be a significant contribution to something here in Topeka and we chose Washburn,” said Summerson. “We’ve always felt that our education here has helped us with our successful careers.”

Summerson and her husband both graduated from Washburn University after transferring from Kansas State University.

“The small class sizes and the fact the professors have a real interest in the students was amazing,” said Summerson.

Summerson was fascinated with how Washburn’s faculty and class sizes allowed students and teachers to have more one-on-one interaction. Because of their fondness for Washburn’s terrific faculty, the Summerson’s decided to graciously donate a substantial amount of money towards helping Washburn’s faculty in the future.

“Truly an exceptional opportunity that we’ll be able to provide to our faculty in the future and be able to continue to our strong commitment to teaching excellence,” said Mazachek.

The Summersons created a trust fund in Frank’s name that houses the six million donation. Washburn held a news conference to tell the community of the donation and how Washburn University is now the beneficiary of the irrevocable trust fund. Many prominent members of Topeka and Washburn attended the press conference including Topeka Mayor Bill Bunten and Kansas Senator Garrett Love. The money will not transfer until Jacki passes away.

The money will be used in various ways to help out the faculty of Washburn University. The terms to the agreement are very lenient allowing the Washburn administration to use the money in whatever way they deem suitable, as long as it pertains to the faculty. Salaries, technological advancements, and traveling expenses are just a few of the mentioned ways the money is intended to be used. As technology and research increases, there will be a growing demand for pedagogical changes which will be costly. Summerson’s much appreciated endowment will help Washburn overcome the challenges of the struggling economy.

Jacki grew up in the small town of Clearwater, Kan., while her husband, Frank, originated from Hoxie, Kan. The couple met at Kansas State and transferred together to become Ichabods. Jacki graduated with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physical sciences while Frank graduated with a business administration bachelor’s degree. The couple purchased the Manpower franchise in 1987 and expanded the business with offices now in Wichita, Kan., Springfield, Mo., and parts of east Texas. They went on to start Professional Security, Inc. with offices in the same places as the Manpower franchise. They then created PSI Armored, Inc., with offices located in Topeka, Wichita, Springfield, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

Summerson is still very much involved in Washburn affairs as a member of the Washburn University Foundation’s Board of Trustees and Board of Directors. The soft spoken Summerson made a brief statement during the announcement but her gift said enough. Farley was very grateful for Summerson’s donation and willingness to help the school out in tough financial times.

“We want to continue our long term commitment to teaching. We are a teaching institution,” said Farley. “Our faculty are exceptionally good at teaching. We want to be able to recognize and reward those faculty members for their excellence.”

The donation by Summerson of $6 million is the largest gift ever given to Washburn University, beating out the $5 million donated a few years back that is being used right now by the university.