Madison and Lila Self of Hinsdale, Ill., have contributed $1 million to Kansas University for the first major endowed graduate fellowship program in school history.
"It is my goal to encourage and help the especially gifted and motivated who, in turn, can be reasonably expected to make a real difference during their lifetime," Madison Self said.
At KU, fellowships are often called "service-free" awards because graduate students aren't required to teach or conduct research in exchange for the support.
Most aid provided KU graduate students to this point has come from teaching or research assistantships, which spread students' energy and can slow their progress toward graduation.
The Selfs' gift was added to Campaign Kansas, the KU Endowment Association's $177 million fund drive. KUEA officials said Monday that $162.2 million has been pledged.
A NATIVE of Meriden, Self graduated from KU in 1943 with a degree in chemical engineering. He is president of an investment company and chairman of Tioga International.
Tioga International has interests in polymer and specialty chemical fields. For many years, he was chairman and president of Bee Chemical Co. in Lansing, Ill.
Mrs. (Reetz) Self, formerly of Eudora, attended KU in 1943 and worked part time in the Department of Petroleum Engineering for former chairman Eugene Stephenson.
KU Chancellor Gene Budig called the $1 million donation a historic first. He also said the gift will "have an important impact on graduate studies."
The Selfs' support of graduate students can serve as a model for others, said Frances Horowitz, vice chancellor for research, graduate studies and public service.
"IT WILL be an enduring and growing legacy of help to a very important and needy segment of KU's student body," said Horowitz, who also is dean of the graduate school.
Del Brinkman, vice chancellor for academic affairs, said fellowships are among the best gifts a university can receive because competition for outstanding students has increased.
"We especially need to attract, retain and nurture potential future faculty members, because we know there is going to be a shortage of faculty in the future," he said.
Self said he hopes that most, if not all, of the students who benefit from the endowment "will make unusual contributions at the cutting edge of their fields."
He said he hopes they become teachers and help "gifted students develop their own special talents, or serve as talented leaders in the world of business, education or government."
The Selfs are members of KU Alumni Association and KUEA's Chancellors Club. Within the club, they belong to the Mount Oread Society, which recognizes $1 million donors.