Ehingers fund Fellows program

A 1976 Trine University business graduate and his wife will fund the Fellows program in the Ketner School of Business.

Ken and Kathy Ehinger of Coldwater, Michigan, have committed $10,000 annually to fund the annual budget of the new Ehinger Fellows program. They also have committed to an estate gift valued at $250,000 upon their deaths to maintain funding.

“What put us over the top was meeting some of the Fellows themselves,” Ken Ehinger said. “We got to see how bright, articulate and just passionate they are about not only the school, their role in business and the opportunities they have, but the chance to be Fellows and learn how to lead.”

The Ehingers have been familiar with the Steuben County lakes area since they were children and have a strong connection to Trine in addition to Ken being an alumnus. Two of Ken’s brothers, Ed and Ron, also graduated from Trine, as did two of the couple’s sons and a niece. Sister-in-law Sue Ehinger served on Trine’s Board of Trustees.

Ken also serves on the Advisory Board for the Ketner School of Business and served on Trine’s alumni board in the past.

“We have somewhat of a legacy here,” he said.

A gift to the university played a key role in one of Ken’s favorite memories from his time at what was then Tri-State. He was part of a class project where students managed an investment portfolio, with shares that had been donated to the business department.

“It was really something that got my interest in the securities business started,” he said. “I have spent 40-plus years in that business thanks to a kind contribution to our class.”

The couple has supported the school through the annual fund and donated to its athletic programs since Ken graduated. They also have supported Trine’s Drama Club, in which one of their sons participated.

“We wanted to engage a little bit more. We wanted to feel like we were making a difference in a more personal way,” Kathy Ehinger said. “These are the students who are going to go out and represent Trine, and they’re going to be another one of these groups of students who give back to the school, maybe starting out nominally just like we did and increasing as it goes, so the university can keep doing so many wonderful things.”

“We became very excited about the possibilities of leadership development at Trine — how the group has expanded to help mentor students in general in the business school, but also expanding to other parts of the campus,” Ken Ehinger said.

The Fellows program was established in 2015. Students pursuing a business major or minor who demonstrate excellent leadership, communication and positive influence are selected to become Fellows through an annual faculty nomination and application process. The Fellows volunteer their junior and senior years to polish their servant leadership skills, build business prowess and serve as leaders, mentors and ambassadors throughout the Ketner School of Business and the Trine community.

“The Fellows program has provided far-reaching impact to the business school,” said Toby Swick, dean of the Ketner School of Business. “It has helped us effectively recruit students and helped us change the culture within the business school by increasing professionalism. It’s also helped us build relationships with area companies to increase placement.”

“The Ehingers’ amazing gift will empower the Fellows, for the long run, to deliver a variety of programs and events that will build professional skills in all of our students, elevate the culture of our school, and grow as inspiring leaders themselves,” said Kelly Trusty, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Ketner School of Business and Ehinger Fellows Facilitator. “The Fellows are truly awed by Ken and Kathy’s passion for what we do in KSB to build tomorrow’s business leaders.”

The Ehingers’ gift is part of the $20 million endowment component of the Invest in Excellence campaign, which was expanded last year with the goal of raising $125 million for scholarships and campus improvements as well as the endowment. Launched in 2009, the campaign has raised nearly $88 million, about 70 percent of the final goal.

Photo: Ken and Kathy Ehinger stand in the Ketner School of Business at Trine University with faculty and members of the Ehinger Fellows. The couple recently decided to fund the Fellows program. From left are: back row, Kayla Spande, a senior accounting major from Mapleton, Minnesota; Cole Mabie, a junior mathematics major from Plainwell, Michigan; Jimmy Budreau, a junior sport management major from Leonard, Michigan; Ken Ehinger; Victor Flynn, a junior sport management major from Grosse Pointe, Michigan; Toby Swick, dean of the Ketner School of Business; front row, Kelly Trusty, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Ketner School of Business and Ehinger Fellows Facilitator; Brandon Beery, a senior mathematics major from Mishawaka; Kathy Ehinger; Carly Osinski, a junior marketing major from Noblesville; and Paige Stark, a senior finance major from Newtown Square, Pennsylvania. Below: The Ehingers with Earl D. Brooks, Ph.D., Trine University president.