Correction: Koch Industries gave $1.54 million last year to create annual scholarships at Wichita State University as part of a new Koch Scholars program for incoming freshmen joining WSU’s honors college. The source of the gift was incorrect in a previous version of this story.
Bill and Dorothy Cohen are giving $5 million to Wichita State University’s Foundation, most of it to support WSU’s honors college of high-achieving students, the university announced Wednesday.
Bill Cohen founded IMA Financial Group in Wichita in 1974; he and his wife have given to and supported WSU for decades, the university said.
Most of the gift, $4.75 million, will go to the honors college, which will be renamed the Dorothy and Bill Cohen Honors College, WSU said. Another $250,000 will help create the Dorothy and Bill Cohen fund for University Libraries, the university said in a prepared statement.
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The total donation is one of the larger gifts ever made to the foundation by individuals, WSU said.
WSU officials said $2.25 million of the gift will endow scholarships to help honors college students pay for activities and experiences such as study abroad, undergraduate research, internships in the public sector and attendance at national conferences.
Another $1.5 million will endow honors college faculty fellows – faculty released from departmental duties for a semester to design and teach classes in the honors college, WSU’s statement said.
Another $1 million will endow a leadership academy, promoting student leadership through academic coursework and community mentorship, WSU said.
The library money will help cover costs including digitization, e-books, hiring graduate assistants and purchasing equipment, WSU said.
WSU’s honors college, upgraded and expanded by president John Bardo after he took over in 2012, has also received support from Koch Industries, which donated $1.54 million to create annual scholarships for high-achieving high school students to become Koch Scholars. Many of them will be honors college students seeking majors within the College of Engineering or the W. Frank Barton School of Business, WSU has said.
Bardo and Kimberly Engber, the honors college dean, have described the college as a strategy in which students are challenged with rigorous instruction and put into situations and groups where, for example, engineering students team with liberal arts students to do business projects and learn from each other.
In previous years, the Cohens, who are not WSU alumni, have endowed a scholarship in the College of Education, donated to the renovation of the Rhatigan Student Center and the president’s home and supported athletics and fine arts, WSU said.
Bill Cohen serves on the WSU Foundation’s National Advisory Council; Dorothy Cohen has worked for the Wichita Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, Private Jet Expeditions and Consolidated Holdings, WSU said. She served in a consulting relationship with the government and public relations division of Koch Industries for nearly 20 years, WSU said.