Dorothea Franzen and Ruth Franzen, sisters who grew up in Hillsboro and spent their lives involved in academia, made an estate gift of more than $1 million to Bethel College in North Newton, the college recently announced.
A portion of the estate gifts is restricted to the sciences and will be used to establish a science equipment endowment.
“This generous gift helps the college create an important new endowment that will enhance our laboratories and directly impact students’ education,” Bethel College President Perry White said.
The remainder of the Franzens’ gift is designated for upgrades to campus facilities, as outlined in the college’s Strategic Plan for Campus Enhancement and Marketability.
Dorothea Franzen graduated from Bethel College in 1937 and received the college’s Distinguished Achievement Award in 1975.
She was the first female graduate of Bethel College to earn a Ph.D. She received numerous awards for her contributions to research about mollusks. In 2003, she donated her terrestrial snail collection to the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.
She taught at Cedar Crest College in Allentown, Pa., Washburn University in Topeka, and Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington, Ill.
Ruth Franzen graduated from Bethel College in 1944. She spent 30 years as an associate professor of design, housing, and apparel at the University of Minnesota and taught at the University of Kansas and Kansas State University.
The sisters retired to North Newton. Dorothea Franzen died in 2008, and Ruth Franzen died in 2011.