The Mary Jo Williams Charitable Trust has provided three significant new grants to programs at Garden City Community College.
The grants were announced this week by Jeremy J. Gigot, executive director of the GCCC Endowment Association, including:
“The Mary Jo Williams Trust has been extremely generous and supportive of Garden City Community College, and this new allocation $52,655.50 is one of many that have totaled $1,111,083.30 over the past 24 years,” Gigot said. “We are very grateful that the legacy of Mary Jo Williams is being maintained in a way that supports the education of students at GCCC.”
The allocations were approved in November after the three trustees of the Garden City-based charitable organization reviewed proposals. Trustee Michael Collins conveyed the gift to the endowment association.
The computers provided by the reading lab grant will help incoming students develop their comprehension and vocabulary skills. More than 50 percent of freshman arriving at GCCC with high school diplomas must take developmental instruction to reach college-level requirements. Jan Bitikofer, reading instructor, submitted the grant in partnership with Jeff Southern, director of information technology.
The allocation for the comprehensive learning center, which is named after the benefactor of the trust, was proposed by Trent Smith, library director, and Janice Urie, CLC tutoring coordinator. The 27 new computers made possible through the gift will provide students with continued access to reliable learning technology. The center offers peer and professional tutoring and assistance day and night to GCCC students in subjects across the curriculum.
The iPad units purchased with the funds for the math department will link with online tools and textbook resources used by students in most of the college’s math courses, according to Leslie Wenzel, instructor, who requested the allocation in conjunction with Chris Juarez, instructor.
The trust honors the memory of Mary Jo Williams, a member of a pioneering Finney County family who served many years as secretary to the superintendent of schools and clerk of the community’s board of education. The benefactor, who died at the age of 64 in 1986, graduated from GCCC in the 1940s after attending Garden City public schools. She also attended Colorado Women’s College and the University of Kansas.
Among school superintendents who depended on her were Dr. Leroy Hood, Dr. Horace Good and Dr. Thomas Saffell, later a GCCC president. Her signature appears on the diplomas of numerous Garden City High School graduates over many years.
She was the daughter of Garden City dentist W.B. Williams, whose father was an early-day developer in Finney County. Her mother was Lillian Brown Williams, whose father, O.J. Brown, was also a community leader and local pioneer in cattle production and energy development.
Her will included generous designations for education, music and other fields at GCCC and elsewhere across Southwest Kansas, and the trust has provided scholarships, grants and facilities ranging from the Mary Jo Williams CLC to a Team T lab at the John Collins Vocational Building that provides emergency management and response training.