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Goppert scholarship gift celebrated

February 26, 2015

Joshua M. Smith, left, and Michael D. Shonrock react as Joseph A. Smith rings a ceremonial bell during a scholarship announcement Wednesday, Feb. 25, 2015.

A desire to help college students who might struggle to find scholarships and give them an incentive to remain in Kansas communities is the reason the Emporia State University Foundation has received $100,000 from the Goppert Foundation.

The Goppert family’s continued generosity was celebrated Wednesday with a bell-ringing reception in the Memorial Union’s Webb Lobby. This new gift significantly boosts the size of the Goppert Foundation Scholarship Endowment Fund, which was established by a similar gift in 2009. The fund has already helped defray educational costs for 22 Emporia State students.

“This additional support from The Goppert Foundation allows us to help even more students achieve their dreams to obtain a college education,” said DenaSue Potestio, president/CEO of the ESU Foundation.

The Goppert family was represented at Wednesday’s celebration by Joseph A. Smith and Joshua M. Smith, chairman and vice president, respectively, of the Goppert State Service Bank.

“They're very good people,” said Joshua Smith, describing the Goppert family. “They believe in education, and they like to help out young kids and see them do really well.”

The endowment’s annual payout amount provides scholarships to students with grade-point averages between 2.5 and 3.25, who may not meet traditional criteria for scholarships and financial aid and, as a result, sometimes struggle financing their educations.

“I would say it's more the character of the individual rather than the grade-point average,” Smith said. “They are a very giving family and they like to see the funds that they donate used in a very productive way.”

The Goppert Foundation was established in 1959 by Clarence H. Goppert, an area banker and philanthropist, who believed in reinvesting earnings back into the community. The Goppert State Service Bank — with branches in the Kansas towns of St. Paul, Walnut, Hepler, Garnett, Colony, Ottawa and Pomona — is owned by the Goppert family. The foundation makes grants in the areas of health, education and the advancement of elderly and youth services.

Since the Goppert Foundation's inception, Clarence H. Goppert's descendants — son Richard, grandson Tom, and great-granddaughter Autumn — have carried on the family's benevolent work, still focusing on its original goals of reinvesting back into the communities and nearby areas, with a related goal of retaining graduates.

“They like to keep the graduates coming back rather than leaving the community,” Smith said.

The Goppert Foundation’s goals dovetail with Emporia State’s vision of changing lives for the common good by graduating students who will give back to their own communities.

“We appreciate that the Goppert Foundation has faith in Emporia State and our students who are tomorrow’s leaders,” said Emporia State President Michael D. Shonrock.

Smith said the Goppert Foundation reviews applications for grants and awards them in part based on confidence that the funds will be used wisely and for the purpose intended.

“They feel comfortable with what you are doing,” he explained of Emporia State University. “They feel like you will use it in the right area, as seen fit, rather than having to monitor it all the time.”

Launched in February 2013, Now & Forever: The Campaign for Emporia State University is a five- to seven-year effort with a working goal of $45 million. It is already the most successful fund-raising initiative in University history, with financial commitments now exceeding $34 million.

The campaign supports student scholarships, academic departments and initiatives that advance Emporia State’s mission to recruit students, teach and retain them, encourage them to graduate with lower levels of student debt, and ultimately put them on a path to a solid career.

For more information about opportunities to give to the Now & Forever campaign, visit, or contact DenaSue Potestio at 620-341-5440.



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