Gift of $58 million pushes KU campaign beyond $1.2 billion goal

Posted on Dec 9, 2014 in Alumni News, Campus News, and News

Chancellor speaks about Endowment gift |
University leaders gathered Dec. 9 to celebrate a historic estate gift of $58 million from Madison “Al” Self, e’43, and his wife, Lila, ’43. The late couple’s total giving to KU since 1989 is a phenomenal $106 million, a record among private donors in the history of KU. Two dozen Self family members attended the ceremony in the Adams Alumni Center.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little hailed the day as transformational in the history of the University. The Selfs’ generosity, she said, grew from “the conviction that there is no greater investment than in the development of student leadership excellence.”

The Selfs’ final gift includes $39 million for the Self Graduate Fellowship Fund for doctoral students in STEM disciplines, business and economics; and $15 million for the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program, which benefits engineering and computing undergraduate students. The remaining $4 million establishes a new Self Graduating Senior Fellowship Fund to recognize graduating seniors who have shown exceptional tenacity in their achievements.

Al Self came to KU from his family’s farm in Meriden and met Lila, who came from the Fall Leaf community near Eudora. They married in the summer of 1943, following his graduation with a chemical engineering degree. In 1947, the Selfs acquired Bee Chemical Co. in Lansing, Illinois. Al guided the firm from a three-person operation to an international producer of polymers and polymer coatings for use on plastics. When they sold the company 37 years later, it had five U.S. manufacturing sites and operations in Japan and England.

The Selfs died in 2013, Al in January and Lila in November, both at the age of 91. Their record-setting bequest has helped KU Endowment surpass its $1.2 billion goal for Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas. Kurt Watson, d’75, who with his wife, Sue, d’75, chairs the campaign for KU Endowment, announced that the campaign has raised $1.218 billion.

“But we’re not done yet. We said the campaign was going to run until 2016 and that’s just what we’re going to do,” Watson said. “We’ve accomplished a great deal, but many, many of our imperatives remain. For the campaign’s duration, we will encourage donors to support KU’s most precious resource, and that is our people.

“We will seek additional funds for scholarships and fellowships for undergraduate and graduate students, and we will seek additional funds for faculty and professional support. We will continue the campaign to take KU Far Above.”

—Jennifer Jackson Sanner

Watch the slideshow below for more photos from today’s event.


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