October 22, 2012 12:00AM
A $250,000 gift for scholarships at Pittsburg State University is also a tribute to an iconic PSU professor.
PSU’s Office of University Development has announced the receipt of the gift for the Dr. George Graham Plastics Technology Scholarships. The donation, the largest ever for the plastics engineering technology program, comes primarily from the Robert and Gwen Tyler Charitable Foundation.
“This endowed gift will be a tremendous benefit to students majoring in plastics engineering technology,” said Kathleen Flannery, executive director of university development at PSU. “It also makes a strong statement about the lifelong impact professors can have on the lives of individual students.”
Graham, who served the university for 34 years, helped develop the plastics engineering technology program and was its first professor. Graham worked to get the program accredited in 1979 and was recognized by the Society of Plastics Engineers as the 1990 International Educator of the Year.
Prior to his classroom experience, Graham spent 13 years in industry where he was the lead senior engineer for the Micro Switch Division of Honeywell.
Graham, who retired in 2005, developed a reputation both for his close ties to industry and for his mentorship of students, including Bob Tyler, who earned his degree from PSU in 1975. He said Tyler’s gift will be a great benefit to students and to the plastics engineering program.
“Bob’s generosity in contributing to these scholarships is wonderful,” Graham said. “It will certainly help individual students and increases the probability of enrolling more students in the program.”
Tyler, president and founder of Winfield Consumer Products in Winfield, Kan., and his wife have a long history of service to Pittsburg State. Tyler has served as a trustee of the PSU Foundation, Inc., and a member of the PSU Plastics Advisory Council. He is a lifetime member of the Presidents Society and is a recipient of the Meritorious Achievement Award, PSU’s highest award based on career achievement.
In addition to establishing the George Graham Plastics Technology Scholarships, the Tylers provided significant support for the construction of the Tyler Research Center, which houses the Kansas Polymer Research Center at PSU.
Flannery said this scholarship gift moves the university ahead in its three-year Pathways to PSU Scholarship campaign, which was launched in 2011 with the goal of raising an additional $12 million in scholarship endowments.