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News Release

May 15, 2024

New scholarship honors legacy of Wesley Student Center co-director

For 35 years, Marjean Potter Ehlers and her husband, Don, served as co-directors of the Wesley Foundation at Northwest Missouri State University, impacting hundreds of students’ lives through their mentorship, care and support. That legacy is continuing after Marjean’s passing last December through a new scholarship created in her memory.

The Marjean Potter Ehlers Memorial Scholarship is now available to full-time undergraduate students with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a major in psychology. The scholarship will award an amount of no less than $1,000 per year with preference given to students active in Wesley Foundation programming, a United Methodist-based campus ministry.

Marjean and Don Ehlers

Marjean and Don Ehlers

“Our hope is that those who receive the scholarship will have a sense of the importance that Marjean placed on education, on relationships, on faith, and that her very being was about helping people and coming alongside them in their student journey,” Don said. “I hope anyone who receives this scholarship would get a sense that she’s walking with them.”

The Ehlers connected as high school classmates in Sioux Rapids, Iowa, and wed four years after their high school graduation. They were married for 51 years until Marjean’s death in December.

After Marjean completed her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and sociology at Northwest in 1972, and Don graduated from Iowa State University, the couple began their careers as co-head teachers at a daycare center and embraced their interests in a shared career. In 1975, they began as associates in ministry at the Wesley Foundation at the University of Northern Iowa, where they earned master’s degrees in counseling and remained for five years until moving to Maryville.

Through the decades and connections they made, they were known as impactful leaders at Northwest as well as in campus ministry throughout the region and nation. They completed doctorate degrees in educational leadership and policy analysis at the University of Missouri-Columbia and seminary work, culminating with their ordination as United Methodist clergy.

In addition to establishing an internship program for students interested in ministry and hosting numerous social, recreational and ministry activities at Northwest’s Wesley Student Center including a midweek worship, the Ehlers often were called upon to provide support and counsel to students, faculty and staff in times of crisis at the University. Don also served as an adjunct instructor at Northwest from 2009 to 2011 and then as an instructor of psychology from 2012 to 2017.

“It was so important for students, faculty and staff to see us not just as religious people, but as people of faith who cared for people,” Don said. “Seeing how Northwest has been a springboard for hundreds of students that we know, who went from campus to careers that are so successful – we celebrated that success every graduation, every semester.”

The Ehlers’ four children attended Horace Mann Laboratory School on the Northwest campus, and the University culture permeated their family – not just as a workplace but as a home, Don said. Upon their retirement in 2015 as co-directors of Northwest’s Wesley Foundation, the University’s president at the time, Dr. John Jasinski, presented the Ehlers with a proclamation citing their “35 years of faithful and impactful service, stellar leadership and enduring commitment” to the institution.

“We began this journey of co-directing the Wesley Center, where our motto was ‘becoming whole persons, a journey of faith,’” Don said. “It’s about becoming a whole person and that people could experience that. Maybe this scholarship can take away some of the stress of finances and allow recipients to grow not only academically and spiritually but also emotionally and in relationships, that they can focus on themselves to grow.”

The scholarship fund remains open and capable of receiving additional contributions at any time. For more information about the Marjean Potter Ehlers Memorial Scholarship or to make a tax-deductible gift to benefit the University, contact Northwest’s Office of University Advancement at 660.562.1248 or visit


Dr. Mark Hornickel
Administration Building
Room 215