Largest Scholarship Gift Ever For Washburn

A Kansas college has received its largest scholarship gift ever.

Washburn leadership announced Tuesday a $5 million gift to create the Thelma Ann Davidson Memorial Scholarship at Washburn. The gift, from Dick and Trish Davidson, will provide financial support for high-performing students with financial need. The endowed scholarship is the largest in Washburn’s history and is named in honor of his mother. 

“We are deeply grateful for this incredible gift in support of future generations of Washburn students,” said JuliAnn Mazachek, president, Washburn. “This scholarship will be transformational in making it possible for even more students to achieve their educational dreams at Washburn. Since we met many years ago, Dick and Trish have been steadfast partners in supporting hard-working Washburn students, and we are thankful for their continued commitment to making higher education possible and affordable for all.”

A native of Allen, Kansas, Dick, ba ’66, h ’94, was raised on a farm with modest beginnings and the virtues of hard work. After graduating from high school at the age of 18, he started attending Washburn and working for the Missouri Pacific Railroad before graduating in 1966. He went on to build a distinguished career in the railroad industry, retiring from Union Pacific Corp. as CEO in 2007.

“As I’ve gotten to know Dick and Trish, their incredible story of coming from rural Kansas, working hard and achieving success has been truly inspiring,” said Marshall Meek, mba ’17, president, Washburn University Alumni Association and Foundation. “Their dedication to giving back to other students like them will motivate many students to work hard in the future. Washburn is thankful to them for all they continue to do for students.” 

In 2009, he and Trish donated the largest single gift to Washburn at the time. The gift supported endowed professorships, chairs and scholarships in the School of Business.

“I know I wouldn’t have achieved the success I had in life without the education I received at Washburn,” said Dick. “Trish and I believe there is no substitute for a good education and hard work, and we are happy to help other students as they work to earn their degree and take advantage of the many opportunities at Washburn.”