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Emporia couple’s gift has multiple benefits for ESU

The crowd gathered for a Friday evening banquet at Emporia State University was the first to learn of two major gifts to the university from the estate of an Emporia couple.

The William J. and Aloha Preston Trust is providing $1,231,844 to the ESU Foundation. Income from the trust is earmarked for current and future student scholars in accounting and women’s athletics, two areas that figured prominently in the lives of the donors.

“This is the fourth largest single gift received in ESU’s history,” noted Judy Heasley, the Foundation’s president and chief executive officer. “It is another testament to the institution that the Prestons believed in ESU enough to give so much back.”

The donation was announced during a social hour preceding the annual Beta Alpha Psi banquet. Traditionally known as the honorary accounting fraternity, all accounting, finance, and information systems majors are eligible for Beta Alpha Psi membership.      

The gift reflects the Prestons’ longtime association with Emporia State University. Both received degrees from the institution. Dr. Bill Preston taught accounting courses in ESU’s School of Business for 15 years before retiring.

“Bill fell in love with teaching,” said Dr. John Rich, a School of Business faculty colleague of Preston’s. “He often said it was his most fulfilling experience,” Rich added.

Aloha Preston taught physical education classes at ESU and the College of Emporia. “Aloha was an avid supporter of anything dealing with athletics at ESU, especially women’s sports,” Rich said.

Bill Preston died in June, 2008. Aloha Preston died in December, 2009.            

Proceeds from another gift of the Prestons figured in to another announcement from Heasley during the reception. As part of the Memorial Union renovation campaign, the Preston Trust has provided funds to rename the Union’s Kanza Room the “Preston Family Room.” It was in that room that the announcement of the Preston Trust gift was made Friday evening.

“I first met Bill and Aloha Preston in 2007 at this banquet held in this very room,” recalled Dr. Michael R. Lane, ESU president.  Lane noted that the Prestons contributed funds to install new, state-of-the-art wireless scoreboards at Glennen and Turnbull Fields at Emporia’s Trusler Sports Complex.

“I can still see the glint in Aloha’s eye after she threw out the first pitch in the newly-renovated stadium,” Lane remarked.

“The Prestons were great supporters of athletics,” said Shane Shivley, ESU associate athletics director. “They were interested in the students who received the scholarships they provided.”