The Jack Vanier family has made a gift of $60 million, the largest private donation in the history of K-State.
When he started at Kansas State University in 1959, Joe Wood was not sure of his academic path. After a year in business accounting, he switched to the five-year architecture program. A couple years later, he had the good fortune of a blind date with Bev Abmeyer, a freshman studying biological science and Spanish.
“She turned the tide,” he said. “My GPA saw dramatic improvement as I began to focus more on academics.”
“I showed him where the library was,” Bev added, jokingly.
The couple, who recently celebrated 50 years of marriage, have a daughter, Jennifer, and a son, Jonathan. They found it interesting to see their son take a similar path as Joe in college and ultimately earn a scholarship award for the most improved grade point average from the end of his freshman year to the start of his senior year.
“I kind of liked this idea of rewarding those who are not initially focused academically, but have the ability to get back on track,” Joe said. “It’s an award to inspire those students to finish their academics on a high note before graduating and beginning their careers.”
The Woods created the Academic Comeback Award for K-State architectural students by designating the KSU Foundation as the beneficiary of a portion of one of Joe’s retirement accounts. They also directed parts of the gift to support K-State Athletics’ Ahearn Fund in memory of Joe’s parents, former K-State professor Joe Nate Wood and Marceil Wood, and his sister, Martha Wood. All were loyal Wildcat sports fans. A portion was also designated to add to the Mary Lucille and Walter Abmeyer Scholarship in memory of Bev’s parents.
“My parents had decided years ago to create the Abmeyer Scholarship through their estate plan,” Bev said. “It was quite an inspiration to our family that our parents really knew the importance of a KSU education. Today, my sister and I get letters from those scholarship recipients and see the difference the award can make.”
Bev has spent her career as a Spanish teacher, school counselor and family court mediator, while Joe designed hotels for Marriott and Walt Disney Co. Despite living in Orlando, Florida, the Woods have stayed very connected with K-State through athletic events and reunions.
“It was not a big decision for us to include K-State in our estate plans,” Joe said. “My education at K-State launched me into a very successful career, so I certainly owed the College of Architecture, Planning & Design for that.”
Paul and Sandra Edgerley commit $5 million to establish K-State’s first endowed deanship.
After a $4 million lead gift from Regnier family foundation, Regnier Hall will adjoin an expanded Seaton Hall in the new APDesign Complex.
A $1 million gift from Greg and Mamie Case is helping tomorrow’s leaders learn at K-State’s Center for Risk Management Education and Research.
K-State alumna creates scholarship for Arts and Sciences students with a bequest in her will.