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Education

Friends University Receives $1.2 Million Gift For Fine Arts Division

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Friends University in Wichita is establishing its first fully funded endowed chair. The appointment will come in the Fine Arts Division as part of a $1.2 million gift from an alumna.

Meredith Gail Buchanan graduated from Friends University in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in music education. She and her husband, Tim, want to enhance the educational experience at Friends, so they’ve committed more than $1 million to the fine arts program to establish the Tim and Gail Buchanan Chair in Fine Arts.

Friends President Amy Carey says the gift will add prestige and continued funding for fine arts.

"This is a very important gift for us because I think it demonstrates to the community our commitment to the fine arts, but it also has the ability to reach out in terms of expanding our reach and offering more scholarships to students," Carey says.

Longtime Fine Arts Chair Cecil Riney is currently serving on an interim basis. He led the department for 45 years before retiring.

Carey says the person hired to be the endowed chair will have a discretionary budget to add special programs or bring in nationally known artists or performers.

"It gives them the opportunity to add something that they may want to add to the program. Perhaps they want to bring in a special artist, something like that," she says.

About 300 students are involved in the school's fine arts programs such as dance, music, theatre and visual arts. Carey says $200,000 of the gift will be dedicated to scholarships.

"It’s important for students today to see those opportunities for scholarships, and so we’re very excited that we can expand what we have to offer in terms of scholarships through this gift," she says.

The university has raised more than $4.4 million in the past 18 months to support the annual fund, scholarships and facility projects.

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Follow Deborah Shaar on Twitter @deborahshaar.

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