University of Kansas Receives $32 Million Bequest

The University of Kansas has announced a $32 million estate gift from longtime donors Charles E. Spahr and his wife, Mary Jane.

The gift to the KU Endowment will support the university's School of Engineering, enabling it to boost the number of scholarships and fellowships it offers and create funded professorships. The gift also will build momentum for the school's Building on Excellence Initiative, which seeks to increase by 60 percent the number of students earning bachelor's degrees in engineering over the next six years.

Spahr, who earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from KU in 1934, served as president and CEO of Standard Oil of Ohio after a stint in the Army Corps of Engineers during World War II. Throughout his life, he remained active in alumni affairs, serving on planning committees for the school's engineering library and Summerfield Hall and on the board of the KU Endowment. He and his wife, who graduated from the university in 1938, also donated $13 million for various projects, including construction of the Spahr Engineering Library. With the bequest, their giving to the university totals $45 million, making them the most generous supporters of the university ever.

"Charlie and Janie Spahr were so passionate about their experiences at this institution and how it shaped their lives," said School of Engineering dean Stuart Bell. "We are blessed that they chose to support the KU School of Engineering and our students and faculty who share their love for discovery and potential to transform the world."

"Charles and Mary Jane Spahr Leave $32 Million Estate Gift for KU." University of Kansas Press Release 05/13/2011.