A Journal-World news story 25 years ago this month may not have drawn much attention from some readers and probably did not create any immediate stir. Yet it quietly set the stage for one of the most striking success stories in Kansas University history.
The story announced that Takeru Higuchi, a 20-year veteran of the Wisconsin University pharmacy faculty, was coming to KU in the fall of 1967 as regents distinguished professor of pharmacy and chemistry and as chairman of the department of pharmaceutical chemistry.
Soon after arriving here, the indefatigable Higuchi persuaded ALZA Corp. to establish a pharmaceutical research institute in Lawrence. Under Higuchi's guidance, the venture later became the independent INTERx Research Corp. It eventually merged with Merck & Co., and has emerged as a model university-industry-high technology partnership. The massive benefits to KU, Kansas and the entire nation continue to expand.
Higuchi's accomplishments in chemistry, pharmacy and business take pages to document.
World-renowned for his scientific and business acumen, Higuchi also established a highly notable reputation here for his personal generosity. Between 1968 and 1985, he and his wife, Aya, established eight funds with the Kansas University Endowment Assocation to support research, graduate education and economic development programs.
Monetarily, the Higuchi contributions have run well into the millions. Academically, his leadership gave KU a niche about which most other universities are understandably jealous, and those who have followed at INTERx have helped enhance that legacy.
Said Chancellor Gene Budig following the 69-year-old Higuchi's death in 1987: ``Tak Higuchi was one of the great figures in the history of the University of Kansas. As a teacher, scholar, entrepreneur and benefactor he leaves an indelible mark on KU.'' His untimely death resulted from complications following cardiovascular surgery.
Higuchi deservedly was granted the unofficial title of '`the father of physical chemistry.'' Kansas and society in general will perhaps forever be richer for that 1966 notice that a Wisconsin professor was shifting his talents to the university at Lawrence.