Alumni gives $2 million donation

Julie Knapp

Washburn University enjoys setting records, especially when those records involve financial donations to the university.

Jerry Farley, president of Washburn, announced Friday a $2 million gift to the university from alumni Ron and Florence Richey, a couple from Alabama. The money, which sets a record with Washburn for the largest individual gift from a living person, will be going to the scholarship fund and other campus projects. The exact amount for each one has yet to be determined.

The admissions office will immediately begin assessing students who excel in academics, leadership and community service, in hopes to have the first Richey Scholars on campus next fall.

“We will scour the state to find the top people who meet this criteria in order to bring the brightest and most capable students to Washburn,” said Farley in his announcement on Friday.

Jill Bronaugh, the communications officer for the Washburn Endowment Association, said the scholarship is open to any student in the U.S., but a bulk of the scholarships will probably go to Kansas and regional students.

“We want the students to return to their communities, or stay in Topeka, and be productive, engaged and enlightened students,” said Farley.

Linda Graves, former first lady of Kansas and daughter of the Richeys, said the family was very happy to be able to give the gift to Washburn. She said at the beginning of the year Farley started talking to the family, who has been giving to Washburn for many years already, about the needs of the university.

“My father and mother decided there was a real need in enhancing that [scholarship] program,” said Graves. “I think they intend to be around to see their contribution help the students.”

The Richeys both received their undergraduate degrees from Washburn in 1949 and were very involved in the Greek system on campus, with Richey being a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity and Florence Richey being a part of the Delta Gamma sorority.

“They had a wonderful experience that benefited them both personally and professionally,” said Graves.