The fund was set up through a bequest of Ethel Dettman. She was the daughter of Adams County wheat farmers William and Marie Dettman. Ethel was the last in a line of three generations of wheat farmers. She earned a degree in sociology from WSU in 1952 and became a social worker, serving clients in the Rainier district of Seattle for 35 years. She died in 1998 at the age of 63. She was a life-long supporter of WSU.