Nov 24, 2020 6:30 PM

KWU receives a more than $4M estate gift, largest in university history

Posted Nov 24, 2020 6:30 PM

UPDATE: This story has been updated by KWU to correct that Mr. Olson died in September 2019.

Kansas Wesleyan University has received a more than $4 million gift from the estate of Salina native Dale Olson.

Olson, a longtime supporter of KWU, died in September 2019. The gift is the largest single gift in KWU history, the university noted in a news release.

“Dale and his family meant a great deal to our university,” said Ken Oliver, vice president of advancement, admissions and marketing. “Although he graduated from another institution, he always maintained his ties to Salina and, more specifically, to KWU. He went on to accomplish great things and, because of his generosity, more students will be able to follow in his footsteps. We thank the Olson family for this incredible gift.”

Olson, a Salina native whose father’s concrete company laid the original Pioneer Hall steps, attended KWU from 1945–47 following a stint in the Naval Reserves. He noted that the head of the KWU Mathematics Department played a key role in his academic success.

Olson would complete two years of pre-engineering courses at KWU before transferring to Kansas State, where he graduated in 1951 as a mechanical engineering major with a petroleum option. Olson rose to become one of four senior engineers with Conoco – now Conoco Phillips – before retiring in 1988, but maintained his ties to Salina and to KWU.

He would later endow one of the largest scholarship funds at Kansas Wesleyan, one that would average $5,800 per student annually for 33 students. He and his late wife, Marceline, also gave half a million dollars for the construction of the track that bears their family name at the Graves Family Sports Complex.

The Olson estate giving has been split between KWU and Kansas State.