Three Gifts Boost Campaign

Posted by Paula Paine on November 5, 2013 in Alumni, Community, Events, "Other News", "The College", "Your OU"

Goppert $100,000 Gift

Goppert Gift


The Goppert Foundation of Kansas City, MO, has awarded a $100,000 grant to benefit Ottawa University’s Gangwish Library and Gibson Student Center project. Mike Skidmore, vice president and branch manager of Goppert State Savings Bank of Ottawa and Pomona, KS, presented the check during an Ottawa Chamber of Commerce coffee on Friday, November 1, on the Ottawa University campus.

The library and student center represent the largest project of the University’s $24.3M Advancing the Vision capital campaign. The new student center and cafeteria are currently under construction, with a scheduled completion date of summer 2014. The library is slated for completion by fall of 2015. A technology-enabled conference room in the new library’s conference center will bear the Goppert name.

“When you think about the Goppert Foundation, you think about the large amounts of money it has invested in recreation, in health care and in education in the communities where its banks are located,” said Skidmore. “We personally know the Gangwish and Gibson families, who are the benefactors of the new facilities being built. Beyond the gifts that they have given, they are terrific people of character, and we appreciate the opportunity to have the Goppert name associated with theirs on this building.”

“We are so grateful for the Goppert Foundation’s generosity and faith in our endeavor,” said Ottawa University President Kevin C. Eichner. “Their work in this community is exemplary, and we feel very fortunate to be supported by such an outstanding organization. This terrific gift helps us to sustain the significant momentum we have been able to achieve toward our ultimate goal for this project.”

The Goppert Foundation was established in 1959 by Clarence H. Goppert, a banker and philanthropist. The foundation is committed to helping community civic groups, health care facilities and educational endeavors and has a history of generously supporting Ottawa University, with previous gifts of $200,000 and $100,000. Other area beneficiaries have been Ransom Memorial Hospital, Elizabeth Layton Center, Ottawa Recreation Commission, Neosho County Community College, Baker University, the Ottawa Library, and a 4-H Scholarship to Kansas State University.

Ottawa Tribe $100,000 Gift
Ottawa Tribe Gift


During a Celebration Luncheon on October 25 as part of Ottawa University’s Homecoming festivities, the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma presented a $100,000 gift to the University for a signature fire and water feature that will be located in front of the new Gangwish Library, which is slated for construction beginning summer 2014. The library and adjoining student center, which is currently under construction, are the major initiatives of the University’s $24.3M Advancing the Vision capital campaign.

Ottawa University President Kevin C. Eichner explained the significance of the proposed art feature. “At one time, the Potawatomie, the Ojibwe and the Ottawa tribes were all one,” he said. “They then divided into what was called the Council of Three Fires. In envisioning this new building, we thought it would be wonderful to have a signature element in front of the library that would represent the Council of Three Fires and this history of the tribe. We are thrilled that the Ottawa chose to contribute to the project in this way, and we are deeply grateful for their generous gift. The relationship that we enjoy with the Ottawa Tribe and the vision that we share for this University is unquestionably one of the greatest joys of my presidency.”

First Chief Ethel Cook, the first female chief of the Ottawa Tribe, presented the check to President Eichner. “The Tribe board met two months ago, and we acknowledged how much Ottawa University is doing for our Tribe,” she said. “We’ve had so many calls from members thanking us for the opportunity to get a free education at OU that they could never have gotten otherwise. So we felt in our hearts that we needed to help where we could, especially toward the building of this incredible new facility. That is why the board voted to donate $100,000 toward this special feature as part of the student center and library.”

Ottawa University and the Ottawa Tribe of Oklahoma share a heritage dating back to the University’s founding in 1865, when the Tribe, through its relationship with the Baptists and missionaries Eleanor and Jotham Meeker, donated 65 acres on which to build the institution. In exchange, Tribe members received a free education from the residential campus in Ottawa, Kansas. In 2008, an enhanced and revitalized agreement with the Tribe was adopted as the first official act of President Kevin C. Eichner’s tenure. It allows for any official Tribe member to earn an undergraduate or graduate degree from Ottawa University, tuition free, at any of the institution’s nine campuses or online. Full-time students at the residential campus also now receive free room and board. More than 300 Tribe members have taken advantage of the revised agreement to date.

Second Chief Bert Kleidon was also present for the gift presentation. “I am grateful for the wisdom and vision of our forefathers who entered into a relationship with the Baptists so long ago,” he said. “We have entered into a lot of treaties over the years, but the Baptists and the University kept theirs, and it means so much to us that they have.”

The Celebration Luncheon is an annual event to honor Ottawa University’s Heritage Roll of Honor and Dome Society donors. In addition, this year’s event acknowledged the Class of ’63 50th Year Reunion and the Golden Club, which consists of alumni 50-plus years beyond graduation.

Class of '63 $68,000 Gift
2013 homecoming class of 1963 check presentation01

During Ottawa University’s Homecoming football game on October 26, the Class of 1963 presented the University with a check for $67,500 towards the new library/student center. An additional gift brought the total contribution to $68,000.

The class celebrated its 50th reunion during Homecoming 2013 and raised the funds throughout the year under the direction of class members Brenda Hardin Melson, Nancy Schendel Morgan, Judy Fisher Gravitt, and Suzi Ireland McFadden.

“The Class of 1963 worked diligently to reach all class members as part of their 50th Reunion, which included reconnecting with many folks and finding ‘lost’ classmates,” said Director of Alumni Programs Nori Hale. “Another outcome is this gift of appreciation for their OU experience.  It is with deep gratitude that we accepted their Class Gift designated for the Gangwish Library and Gibson Student Center.  This gift will benefit students for many years to come.  Thank you Class of 1963!”