Friends University Receives $1 Million from Charitable Trust

News Date: 
Wed. 03/17/2010

Friends University has received $1 million from the William L. Graham Charitable Trust to be applied to two existing scholarships the Graham family established with Friends University in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Betty Harrison Graham established both scholarships at Friends University in honor of her husband, William L. Graham, and his first wife, Marjorie Lois Graham,” said Hervey Wright III, vice president of University Relations at Friends University. “Mr. Graham was a entrepreneur who started with a $200 bank loan in 1936 and by age 46 was worth an estimated $20 million in Kansas oil and real estate.”

Wright said Graham (also known as Bill Graham Sr.) was featured regularly in Time and Life magazines and owned land near Andover, Augusta and Rose Hill. From 1948 to 1972 he lived in one of two prototypes for the Dymaxion house, a round house made of aluminum and Plexiglass conceived by architect R. Buckminster Fuller. The family donated the house to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn, Mich., in 1992.

“Mr. Graham told his first wife during the Depression that if she stuck with him, they would live on Easy Street,” Wright said. “Every year he changed the name of the street to his 640-acre property. If he were alive today, his address would be 2010 Easy Street.”

After Marjorie died in the 1970s, Bill Sr. later married Betty Harrison. He and Betty were instrumental in many Wichita charities, including Junior Achievement. Mr. Graham died in 1981, and Betty died in 2005.

Friends University will use the $1 million to create an endowed scholarship and will follow the guidelines for the existing two scholarships, with two-thirds going to the William L. Graham Charitable Trust Scholarship, established in 1987, and one-third going to the Marjorie Lois Graham Fine Arts Scholarship, established in 1999.

The William L. Graham Scholarship is the largest scholarship Friends University offers in terms of the number of students receiving the scholarship, Wright said. Each year, Friends University awards this scholarship to about 75 students. Approximately 20 fine arts students, preferably music students, receive the Marjorie Graham scholarship each year.

The scholarships are awarded to full-time junior or senior students with a cumulative grade point average of 3.2 or less when the scholarship is first awarded.

For information about establishing a scholarship at Friends University, call 316-295-5803.