The Story Behind the Building: Elliott


Courtesy photo

The Elliott School of Communication is frequented by students of all walks of life: communications majors, reporters from the Sunflower, students trying to fill an extra credit. Little-known, though, are the origins of the school, and the Elliott name itself. Named after alumnus Oliver and Betty Elliott, who made a large contribution in 1988.

Oliver Elliott, a member of Beta Theta Pi, graduated with an economics degree in 1942. Serving as editor-in-chief for the Sunflower in 1940, he was the recipient of the Outstanding Student Journalist award. After graduating, Elliott met Betty Thomas while working for Cessna Aircraft. 

Thomas, a student of North High and a lifelong Wichita resident, was involved with multiple activities around Wichita. She served on KMUW’s Wichita Radio Reading Service board. She was also involved with Rotary Ann’s and Music Theatre of Wichita. A devoted follower of Christ, she supported multiple religious organizations throughout her lifetime.

The two married in 1943. Together, they worked to support Wichita’s institutions, including Wichita State. Their 1988 contribution established the Elliott School of Communication. It was Wichita State’s second largest gift received at the time. Two years later, their support helped fund the Oliver Elliott School of Communications Scholarship.

Elliott worked to become CEO and president of his own company, National-Spencer, focusing on sales and manufacturing. He credited his successes to his experiences with journalism. 

In 1989, Elliott created a scholarship for his wife, the Betty Elliott Endowed Scholarship. Both lifelong members of the Fairmount Society, a group of Wichita State’s biggest fiscal supporters, the two were named “1995 Couple of the Year” by the Arthritis Foundation. 

Elliott passed away in 1996 after lifelong devotion to Wichita State. Thomas continued to support the university until her passing in 2005. Together, the Elliotts are accredited with non-stop sponsorship of Wichita State, from its journey as Wichita University to the university we know and love today.