Couple donates scholarship to honor daughter’s memory

Grant Cohen

Kathy Brown and her family moved to Wichita when she was 11 years old, but she became  involved with Wichita State long before she was a student.

“Wichita was her home,” said her father, Charlie Brown. “We used to go to football and basketball games and think highly of Wichita State University.”

When the time came for Kathy to choose a college, the choice was obvious. She decided to become a Shocker.

Since she was 13, Kathy suffered from Systemic Lupus Erythematous, an autoimmune disease. In 2012 she died at age 45.

After their daughter’s death, Charlie and Helen Brown decided to donate what remained of Kathy’s college finances to the Wichita State Foundation, and created the Kathryn R. Brown Scholarship in Business and Health Professions.

“After Kathy had passed on, we decided to remain in Wichita,” Brown said. “We decided to donate the money to the university and remember Kathy in that way. She wholeheartedly would approve of that.”

The Browns founded the scholarship in October and chose to award it to a student in business or health professions because Kathy was a business major and spent a lot of time with nurses while in the hospital.  

Qualifications for this scholarship include selecting a student who is in need of financial aid with a 3.0 GPA and promise for success.

The Brown family’s gift helped WSU reach a record-breaking year for fundraising. WSU garnered nearly $49 million in scholarship donations, breaking the record of $31 million in 2014.

“As the university aspirations grow, so does the need for university donors who understand the values of Wichita State,” President John Bardo said in a news release. “They are paving the way for innovative learning for our students, faculty, the Wichita community and beyond.”

Kathy’s scholarship contributed to the significant gain in 2015, but also increased the tuition support. In 2005, 38.1 percent of WSU’s financial aid came from donations. Today, that number has increased to 52.4 percent.

Mike Lamb, WSU Foundation vice president, said it is the generous gifts such as the Brown’s that will continue to help students afford a college education.

“These gifts can certainly motivate others to consider how they might support the future of WSU,” Lamb said.

Charlie and Helen Brown said their overall hope is to help students achieve their goals, just like their daughter.

“She would be very proud that her memory is being honored,” Charlie Brown said. “She would be pleased that she is able to help hard working students become successful.”