Franklin College Designated to Receive $3 Million in Estate Gifts

Franklin College has recently been designated to receive estate gifts totaling $3 million, all directed to the institution’s endowment for various student and faculty opportunities.

E. J. (Jane) Betts, a 1962 alumna of the college, has designated a $1 million gift to establish The E. Jane Betts Endowment for Women’s Athletics at Franklin College. The gift will enrich the lives of women student-athletes by supporting the professional growth of the coaches and administrators who lead them.

Betts earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Franklin in physical education. As a student at that time, being a member of a varsity sports team was not an option for women. However, her entire career as a teacher, coach and athletics administrator was focused on creating and improving opportunities for women in sports. She was a pioneer in the effort to pass and enact Title IX, the federal legislation that guarantees equal opportunities for men and women in athletics. She has received numerous honors recognizing her work as a leader in women’s athletics including membership in the Franklin College Athletics Hall of Fame and the Franklin College Lifetime Achievement Award.

“The success of intercollegiate athletes is directly influenced by the preparedness of the coaches and administrators who lead them,” Betts said. “This gift is intended to encourage and assist coaches and administrators to become the best that they can be as the leaders of Franklin College women athletes.”

Gregg W. Happe, a 1973 alumnus of the college, and his wife Lynda, have designated a $1 million gift to provide continued support for The Happe Family Academic Resource Center (ARC) in B. F. Hamilton Library on campus. Created in 2012, The Happe ARC was named as a memorial to Gregg’s mother, a long-time educator, and to honor his father’s commitment to family and education. Countless students have benefited from the educational support services the center provides to cultivate thinking, learning, and collaborating.

Gregg earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at Franklin in psychology. He retired from Allstate Insurance in 2007 as the senior market manager. Lynda earned her Bachelor of Arts degree at Marshall University in 1967.

“Lynda and I are grateful for the opportunity to support the work undertaken at the ARC,” Gregg said. “Our goal is to see it continue to be a profoundly impactful piece of the student experience at Franklin.”

David W. Wantz, Ed.D., a Franklin College trustee, and Susan (Susie) B. Fleck, have designated a $1 million gift to provide financial assistance to students for domestic and international travel opportunities.

Wantz has more than 40 years of experience in private higher education. In June 2022, he retired after five years as president and CEO of the Independent Colleges of Indiana (ICI). Prior to ICI, Wantz worked 35 years at the University of Indianapolis, where he retired as executive vice president and provost. He is professor emeritus of psychology and served at various times as dean of students and special assistant to the president for community and government relations. He has twice been named a Sagamore of the Wabash. Wantz has served as a Governor’s appointee to the Law Enforcement Training Board for the last 16 years. He holds a Doctor of Education degree in counseling psychology from Indiana University and an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Holy Cross College.

Fleck is a Franklin College journalism professor emerita. She served as a professor in the Pulliam School of Journalism for 15 years introducing and inspiring scores of students in the art and science of photography, retiring in 2005. She also served as the advisor to the yearbook and the award-winning One Week publication. She was awarded the Faculty Teaching Excellence Award, one of the most prestigious awards given to a Franklin College faculty member. Fleck has spent her retirement pursuing her own photography as owner of Susan Fleck Photography LLC and traveling. Her works have been published in various galleries in Indianapolis, New York and Norway. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Ball State University in photojournalism and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Indianapolis.

“We are first-generation college students who are the proof of the benefits of a liberal arts education,” said Fleck. “Our gift is an attempt to give students the benefits we have experienced, particularly to travel as part of their studies.” Wantz added, “To whom much is given, much is required. We feel an obligation to be give back so that others may succeed.”

Franklin College President Kerry Prather said, "We are enormously grateful for these generous estate gifts, which reflect both commitment to our mission and confidence in our future. These gifts will enhance our ability to provide students with the distinctive immersive learning experience for which Franklin College is widely recognized."

Charitable donations are the primary source of funds for the college’s endowment, funding new academic programs, facilities, resources and scholarship opportunities for students.

“Planned gifts are a critical part of funding the Franklin College student experience,” said Nora Brems, interim vice president for institutional advancement. “We appreciate the thoughtful planning, the generosity and the impact these gifts will have on future Grizzlies.”

Contact the Franklin College Office of Communications for more information at (317) 738-8185.

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