The Heroines

Josephine B. Fugate

is honored with a Medium Bench from Mary Jane Dunlap, Hoon Mok Chung, Jane B. Fugate and Gilbert A. Sanchez, Brauch and Judy Fugate, Justus H. and Ann A. Fugate, Kenneth J., Nancy L., and Alexander J. Fugate, Joyce Cole Hultgren, Martin Limbird, Ali Raisdana, Dave and Jennifer Sieverling, Joseph Sieverling, and Eliane Van Stichel.

 Josephine B. Fugate Josephine Braucher Fugate is celebrated in this Plaza for her grace, wit, loving kindness and for her gifts of herself to this university and to all who knew her.

As one of her granddaughters has written, "She brings a sense of wonder into her everyday life. Seldom have I met people who have her openness to new ideas, her willingness to explore. She combines this spirit with a strong sense of who she is, the conviction of a life lived fully. To me, she represents all the possibilities for American women today, the future that we have to look forward to, and a standard to live by."
She would like to be remembered as a good wife, mother, friend, and teacher.

Her first role with the university was as the second woman to serve on the Board of Regents, for a total of 14 years, with three terms as President. Two accomplishments come immediately to mind: first, her key role in the hiring of a then 32-year-old associate professor, Harry Corbin, as president of Wichita University. Another was a trade of votes she made which allowed the building of the Fine Arts Center: she told the pro-sports contingent "you'll have my vote for the new Field House if I have your promise that the Fine Arts building will be next." Her husband Justus served on the Board of Regents after she left it, as an ex officio member when he was mayor of Wichita in 1959. Throughout her life he supported her in many roles in addition to that of wife and mother.

In 1955 Josephine left the Regents at the request of President Corbin to become Dean of Women. Dr. Corbin said in 1970, "The striking change in attitude you provided to that office has made me especially proud of [that] decision." Students confided their most heartfelt problems to her; and, as she said, "I was never a disciplinarian." She particularly enjoyed her relationships with students from other countries, many of whom invited her to visit them in subsequent years.

One of the great loves of her life was her teaching; she was a gifted teacher of mathematics. Generations of her math students (at K.U. and WSU) are grateful for her skill. In her 90s she can still make the seemingly complicated simple, and at the age of 87 devised "Fugate's conjecture." Her three children, Brauch (Ph.D.), Justus (M.A.) and Jane (B.A.), all received degrees in mathematics "partly because it was so easy" after their mother explained its "mysteries."

Issues of the "feminine" role and the tug to accomplish in the world while maintaining relationships seemed not to arise for Josephine. She advises young women to follow their own dreams, no matter how difficult it may seem. As one said, "This strict allegiance to the heart, and all the necessary strength of will it requires, lifts her up as a heroine for me."

September 18, 1998