California Lutheran University has received its largest-ever donation for scholarships, a $4.67 million estate gift from a Pacific Palisades educator.
The endowment funded by John R. Manken’s bequest will provide about $240,000 each year in Manken Family Scholarships to students who are seeking teaching credentials or majoring in math, physics or religion. This will boost the university’s scholarship outlays from endowed funds by about 20 percent.
Manken died of a heart attack at the age of 89 on March 27, 2012, but Cal Lutheran just received the funds. About $23,000 can be distributed this year and the full awards will be available in 2015.
The child of a couple who ran a plumbing business, Manken received a scholarship to attend college and wanted to give others the same opportunity. He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree and a doctorate in music from the University of Southern California, but after a year touring as a concert pianist he decided that wasn’t the life he wanted. He returned to USC and earned a doctorate in educational administration. He had a 40-year career as an elementary school teacher and principal and retired in 1993.
Manken, a Lutheran, first connected with Cal Lutheran when he came to the Scandinavian Festival on campus in 1988 and met the university’s vice president of development. An only child who never married and had no descendants, he began working with Della Greenlee, the now retired director of scholarships and foundation relations, to establish the scholarships to be funded upon his death by the bulk of his estate. Prior to his passing, his only gifts to the university were two oak and glass display cases that hold a collection of Reformation-era Bibles and rare religious books that were donated by his friend.