Their families have had ties to East Central University and known each other for decades, but Phyllis Kunze and John Hargrave never met until Hargrave became ECU's president last July.
Kunze, who was CEO of the East Central Credit Union at the time, brought him one of the first "tigers" in his growing collection that represents ECU's mascot. By the time Kunze was named executive director of the ECU Foundation Inc. on Sept. 1, they already had discovered many family connections.
Phyllis Danley Kunze (left), executive director of the East Central University Foundation Inc., and ECU President John Hargrave look over a list of scholarships made possible from endowments established through the ECU Foundation. Both the Danley and Hargrave families have long-standing ties to the university.
"President Hargrave is very supportive, energetic and ECU oriented," Kunze said. "He is one of the easiest persons I've ever gotten acquainted with."
Both feel they have established a solid partnership for strengthening the foundation and growing its assets to provide more scholarships to students and help meet other needs of the university.
"I think our families' connections and love for East Central University over the last 70 years give both of us an added incentive to work together to increase the number of endowments and gifts to the foundation," Kunze said.
"We understand," Hargrave added, "that a foundation scholarship often can be the difference whether a student is able to finish a college degree.
"And the Hallie Brown Ford Fine Arts Center is an excellent example of how even small donations to the foundation can be used to fund a variety of things. We could not have afforded to complete this facility without the foundation's help," he said.
Kunze's father, the late Dr. James O. Danley, was chairman of the Mathematics Department when he died in 1980 and was ECU's first dean of graduate studies and continuing education.
She also is the daughter of the late Wanita Danley-Plunk who taught in the English and Languages Department for more than a decade. She retired in 1994 and died in 2007.
Kunze, both her parents, her brother, Forrest Danley, and sister, the late Mari Lea Danley Davis, all graduated from ECU. In fact, Hargrave and Davis were ECU students at the same time and were involved in theatre productions together.
Hargrave later hired Forrest Danley as a legal intern in his law firm. Danley now is an attorney in Edmond.
Hargrave's grandparents, Hubert and Daisy Hargrave, also attended ECU. His parents, Rudolph and Madeline Hargrave, met on the campus and his mother was a cheerleader. Hargrave and his sisters, Cindy Keefer and Jana Howard, not only graduated from ECU but also met their spouses at the university.
Hargrave's mother and one of his aunts have master's degrees from ECU and his son Jeff attended ECU for two years.
The original Linscheid Library where Hargrave once studied is now Danley Hall, named in Kunze's father's honor, and is where Hargrave works in the President's Office.
Hargrave said he also has known several of the ECU Foundation's board members over the years.
"I am so pleased that Phyllis was chosen by our foundation board. Her skills and competency are outstanding," Hargrave said. "During my first foundation board meeting I noticed that Phyllis, as a board member, paid close attention to detail and asked several pointed questions."
Kunze previously was one of the board's 25 members. The foundation has approximately $20 million in assets and more than 500 members across the country who support the university.
Interest income earned from endowments and donations to the foundation fund numerous scholarships for ECU students. The foundation, which was organized in 1970, also raised funds to help complete the Pat O'Neal Strength and Conditioning Center, furnish the new Linscheid Library, construct the Frank Crabtree Sr. Honor Plaza, and restore the President's Home and construct the Sterling L. Williams Foundation and Alumni Center.
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