Wichita State University receives largest cash gift in school history

Wichita State announced the largest cash gift in the university's history on Wednesday.

Wichita oil producer Wayne Woolsey and his wife, Kay, are giving $10 million to help build a new home for the W. Frank Barton School of Business.

They are donating another $2 million to Wichita State's department of geology to support its petroleum geology program and field camp experiences for students.

In recognition of the gift, the 136,000-square-foot building that will be in the heart of WSU's Innovation Campus will be named in honor of the couple.

"Today's a phenomenal day to be a Shocker," said Elizabeth King, president of the WSU Foundation.

The gift "will catapult us forward" and "impact thousands" of future Shockers, she said.

A native of Texas, Woolsey, 87, came to Wichita in 1968 while working for Texaco. He left Texaco a year later and started his own company in 1970.

"I have been fortunate to find success in a field that I enjoy a great deal, and I view this gift as something that will help develop other successful entrepreneurs and business leaders," Woolsey said in a prepared statement. "A great business school facility at Wichita State will strengthen our work force and our economy, and that is worth investing in."

After 50 years in Wichita, Woolsey said in a press conference announcing the gift, "I consider myself a Kansan. I've hired several WSU employees. They have been a great, great value" for the company.

His motivation for such a large gift is simple, Woolsey said.

"Kay and I would like to make a difference in the community," he said.

His son Marc is a graduate of the Barton School of Business.

The new hall is a top priority in the WSU Foundation's $250 million Shock the World campaign. The Woolsey gift brings the total campaign contributions to more than $230 million.

Though architectural drawings of the new hall have not been completed, university officials say they anticipate a layout that features flexible classroom designs, numerous spaces within which students can collaborate and wide hallways where students can hang out.

The hall will also house the Koch Global Trading Center and the Institute for the Study of Economic Growth.

Thanks to the gift, "we're in a much better position to show students why they should choose the Barton School of Business," said Anand Desai, dean of the school. "We can distinguish ourselves from the competition."

The new facilities will help the school become "an international model for research, knowledge transfer and applied business learning," he said, by providing "an environment that inspires creativity , collaboration and entrepreneurial energy."

The gift increases the amount raised for the business school project to $21.5 million. The hall is expected to cost about $50 million and university officials want to raise at least half that total through private contributions.

WSU hopes to break ground by the end of 2019.

The Woolsey gift offers fresh impetus for the Shock the World campaign, said Keith Pickus, vice president of the WSU Foundation. Conversations with other donors are under way, he said, and officials are optimistic they can reach the campaign's goal by the end of this year.