Why We Give – Fred ’80 and Melinda Wright

“Kentucky Wesleyan put so much time and effort into me. The faculty were excellent, and set a great example of commitment and a spirit of giving.” – Fred Wright ’80

B.S., Chemistry, Kentucky Wesleyan College
M.S., Chemistry, Butler University

Wife, Melinda (married in 1988)
Three grown sons

Why do you give to Wesleyan?

“Kentucky Wesleyan changed my life. I met my best friend (Sam Clark Jr. ’80) there, and I married his sister.

“While we give to Wesleyan, we feel strongly that we are really giving back. Even though we have given for 38 straight years, and my employer, Eli Lilly and Company, has always matched our gifts, we still need to continue to give back. In addition to Melinda’s brother, her dad (Sam Clark Sr. ’52), uncle (Roy Clark ’43) and cousins, including Emory Clark ’80, graduated from Wesleyan. So our ties to the College are very strong.

“Kentucky Wesleyan put so much time and effort into me. The faculty were excellent, and set a great example of commitment and a spirit of giving.”

Why do you encourage others to give to Kentucky Wesleyan?

“Dr. Magnuson made giving real through his commitment to the College and to his students. His life is a reminder to me of what to do, and I’m sure every Wesleyan graduate has a similar story to tell of someone who impacted them during their Wesleyan years.”

Why did you choose Kentucky Wesleyan?

“I was familiar with the College because my brother (John Wright ’73) and several people from my home church attended Wesleyan.

Many of my friends were going to the University of Kentucky, and I considered UK, but I was awarded a James Graham Brown Scholarship (the second year these scholarships were awarded), so that made the Wesleyan decision easy.”

What are special memories of your years as a student at Wesleyan?

“I have many good memories, from fraternity rivalries (I was a Sigma Nu) to intramurals to studying late at night in Dr. Magnuson’s office.

The campus was a great place, and I felt right at home.

“Dr. Magnuson had such a passion for chemistry, and he was as much an influence on me as my father was. He gave me excellent career advice.  Drs. Connor and Flachskam were great, too. All three of them came to my wedding, which took place in Bowling Green eight years after my graduation from Wesleyan. That meant a lot.

“With Dr. Magnuson’s help, I got a 10-week internship at his alma mater (University of Kansas) in an undergraduate research program in chemistry. That experience was very valuable and helped me understand what opportunities were available to a chemistry graduate.”

Tell us about your career.

“I was employed at Eli Lilly and Company for 35 years, most of that time in Indianapolis. I worked as an organic chemist and sought to develop life-saving medicines. I hold three patents.

“I was in human resources my last 25 years at Lilly. That was a good fit, because I understood the needs of scientists. We lived in Kinsale, Ireland, for one and a half years, where I worked at a Lilly manufacturing site. That was quite an experience and the highlight of my career. A good memory of our time there was a visit from Dr. Magnuson, who was vacationing in the area. Wesleyan connections last a lifetime.

“Eli Lilly gave me a stable and enjoyable career, and my parents and Kentucky Wesleyan prepared me for success. My dad was a World War II veteran who did not have the opportunity to attend college. He and my mother worked hard and saved because they were determined that their children have college educations.

“The Wesleyan faculty, through their dedication and support, guided me on the right path.”