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$11 million gift will provide scholarships at WSU, KU

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Maddie Smith
From left: KU Chancellor Douglas Girod, Sondra Langel and WSU president Rick Muma. The estate of Langel's late husband, Richard "Dick" Smith, donated $11 million to the two schools.

A gift from the estate of Wichitan Richard "Dick" Smith will provide full scholarships to students at each school.

Wichita State University and the University of Kansas will receive $11 million in scholarship funds from the estate of the late Richard “Dick” Smith.

The gift was announced Wednesday during a ceremony at WSU’s Marcus Welcome Center. The schools will each receive $5.5 million to provide full scholarships to students.

At WSU, scholarships will be available to all undergraduate students. At KU, the money will be split between all undergraduates and students studying geology.

Smith received his bachelor’s degree in geology in 1954 from KU. In 1964, he founded Range Oil Co. in Wichita.

Smith was a longtime Wichita resident and active with several civic and charitable groups. He died in January 2021.

Smith’s widow, Sondra Langel, attended Wednesday’s ceremony. She said her late husband valued education.

“Dick believed a college education could have an incomparable impact on the direction a child's life could take,” Langel said. “His family and friends join in celebrating the opportunities his scholarships will create for thousands of young … students.”

KU Chancellor Douglas Girod and WSU President Rick Muma also were at the ceremony. Muma said Smith’s donation aligns with WSU’s goal of making education affordable for all students.

“While it's a rare and precious opportunity for Wichita State and KU jointly to receive a gift as sizable as Mr. Smith’s, it's Kansas families who will benefit ultimately from Dick’s generosity,” Muma said.