A Topeka couple have left an estate gift of $1.7 million that will support scholarships for Kansas University students who study in Germany.
Dean T. and Elisabeth Collins, both Topeka psychiatrists, met in Germany while Dean Collins was completing a residency in psychiatry, said Hurst Coffman, the couple’s friend and attorney who helped establish the gift.
Elisabeth was Dean’s supervising physician at the hospital, Coffman said.
“He came back, and kept writing and writing letters,” Coffman said. They fell in love and married in 1959.
The couple came from different backgrounds. Dean grew up in Dwight, south of Junction City. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree from KU in 1950 and from the KU School of Medicine in 1955. Elisabeth was a native German, finishing medical school in Hamburg. Elisabeth died in 2011, Dean in 2004.
“They had a wonderful relationship,” Coffman said, and they enjoyed classical music, opera, dining out and traveling.
“This is really wonderful,” said Susan Gronbeck-Tedesco, KU’s associate vice provost for international programs.
She said the scholarships were designed to exist in perpetuity and would pay expenses related to a longer-term study abroad program — a semester or a year — for students in any field of study.
Coffman said he had also discussed the gift with leaders and faculty at the KU School of Music.
“The focus would be to try to have at least one of the students come from the opera program,” Coffman said.