TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Washburn University is celebrating the largest gift in its history.
At a news conference Friday, Washburn announced Jacki Summerson and her late husband, Frank, are giving the school $6 million. The money has been placed in an irrevocable trust, with money payable upon Jacki's death. It will be used to support professorships and chairs in all academic areas and provide support for exceptional faculty members who are developing, excelling at, or mentoring others for teaching excellence.
The couple graduated from Washburn in the 1960s. Jacki, who attended the news conference, said they wanted to do something significant for their alma mater.
"When we came to Washburn, we realized what a great place this was. The small classes and the fact we had professors, not graduate assistants, in every class made a real difference in our educations,” Jacki said. “We were fortunate to have had successful careers, and we wanted to do something significant for Washburn. We wanted to ensure that other students will have the same kind of educational experience we had.”
The Summersons operated several Manpower staffing franchises. They later started Professional Security, Inc. and PSI Armored, Inc.
More information from the Washburn University Foundation:
Both Frank and Jacki Summerson are graduates of Washburn University. Frank Summerson received a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 1969, and Jacki Summerson graduated in 1968 with a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and physical sciences.
Frank and Jacki Summerson both grew up in small Kansas towns and learned the importance of a strong work ethic. “When we came to Washburn, we realized what a great place this was. The small classes and the fact we had professors, not graduate assistants, in every class made a real difference in our educations,” Jacki said. “We were fortunate to have had successful careers, and we wanted to do something significant for Washburn. We wanted to ensure that other students will have the same kind of educational experience we had.”
“We are very grateful to Jacki and Frank for this generous gift. It is truly a testament to their long-standing commitment to Washburn and the exceptional teaching and learning environment,” said Dr. Jerry Farley, president of Washburn University. “This gift will help shape the future of Washburn by supporting faculty for many generations to come and allowing us to continue recognizing and rewarding teaching excellence.”
The endowed fund will have a lasting impact on Washburn’s faculty members. “This type of support for faculty and teaching excellence will continue to set us apart from our peers in supporting the most dedicated faculty at every stage of their careers,” said Dr. JuliAnn Mazachek, president of Washburn University Foundation. “The University is so fortunate to have such loyal donors like Frank and Jacki. This financial support is so crucial to our students, faculty and programs and truly distinguishes Washburn.”
Frank Summerson began his career with Hallmark Cards in Topeka in 1969. Jacki Summerson’s career started at the Kansas Department of Transportation Data Center as a computer programmer. In 1987, they purchased the Manpower franchise in Topeka and expanded the business by adding several franchise operations in Wichita, Kan., Springfield, Mo. and East Texas. The Summerson’s also started Professional Security, Inc. with offices in Topeka, Wichita and Springfield and later PSI Armored, Inc. with offices in Topeka, Wichita, Springfield, Kansas City and St. Louis.
Jacki Summerson serves as a member of the Washburn University Foundation’s Board of Trustees and has been elected to Board of Directors. Over the years, the Summersons have supported the Frank and Jacqueline Summerson Athletic Business Scholarship Fund, College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Business, and the Board of Trustees Fund for Excellence.