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October 01, 2008

Long-time local philanthropist and Phillips University alumna Thelma Jean Gungoll is offering a $500,000 challenge grant for the Phillips University Tradition Project.

The pledge will assist in the $1 million capital goal for construction of the Phillips University Gallery, which is part of the new Cherokee Strip Regional Heritage Center currently under construction.

Gungoll and her late husband, Carl E. Gungoll, spent a lifetime raising their family and building a thriving petroleum exploration business in north central Okla-homa.

“Mrs. Gungoll has made many generous philanthropic gifts to vital organizations in the Enid community and feels now its time to give back to her alma mater, Phillips University,” said G. Curtis Jones Jr., Tradition Project national co-chair and former Phillips president.

Phillips University closed in 1998, and the campus grounds now are occupied by Northern Oklahoma College. When the campus closed, Phillips University Legacy Foundation was formed to carry on the legacy and history of the campus in Enid.

Gungoll is the mother of Myra Ward, who along with husband, Lew, has been leading a fundraising campaign to build the new heritage center. Phillips University Gallery is a major part of the new center, and will feature artifacts, memorabilia and history of Phillips Univer-sity.

Gungolls’s Tradition Project pledge will help in the $1 million capital goal for construction of the Phillips University Gallery, featuring Smithsonian-quality exhibits of the university’s artifacts and memorabilia. The Tradition Project also is seeking $500,000 to fund an endowment for ongoing cultural and educational programming in the university’s name. The fundraising effort is being conducted by Phillips University Legacy Foundation.

“This is a unique opportunity to help underwrite the costs of the gallery,” Jones said. “Mrs. Gungoll is a unique person.”

“This will benefit the overall heritage center,” said Andi Holland, director. “The Phillips Gallery is going to be a major resource in the heritage center and truly a regional reflection of the importance of education in northwest Oklahoma.”

Gungoll’s daughters, Myra Ward and Carole J. Drake, said Phillips University always will have a strong legacy in Enid and cultivated a deep appreciation of the arts among Enid residents.

“This gift honors her love of the arts, while paying tribute to the university’s significant role in the community,” Ward said.

Her daughters say Gungoll excelled academically at Phillips and her leadership skills were influential in several of the school’s social service club. She received her bachelor of arts degree in social work and humanities from Phillips in 1964.

“Helping preserve the university’s artifacts also preserves our family’s heritage,” Drake said. “It will provide a magnificent home for the artifacts and wonderful atmosphere for family and friends to reflect on the values of their education at Phillips.”

“Many of the university’s social service clubs are still active today,” Jones said. “Using the matching funds, the clubs are challenging their members for naming opportunities on the four large Corinthian columns formerly on campus.”

The columns will be moved to a courtyard on the museum grounds after construction of the new heritage center is complete.

For information, visit the Phillips University Legacy Foundation Web site at or contact foundation president Jim Wright at 237-4433.