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Archive for Tuesday, March 5, 2002

Ceremony to mark beginning of new engineering building

March 5, 2002

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It will be even more ceremonial than your typical groundbreaking.

When Kansas University officials and donors gather Thursday to break ground on a new engineering building, they'll need to dodge orange fencing, construction equipment and other evidence that work on the project already has been under way almost a month.

KU officials say the $15 million building, which is being built south of Learned Hall with private money, may indicate the future of campus construction.

"We feel this points in a new direction for the university in terms of finding (private) funding for major projects," said Jill Hummels, public relations director for the School of Engineering who is helping organize the groundbreaking. "I don't know if we can rely on the state to build buildings for us."

The groundbreaking will be at 4 p.m. Thursday. The building is scheduled for dedication in summer 2003.

The three-story, 80,000-square-foot building will include offices for electrical engineering and computer science departments, 35 faculty offices, a dozen instructional labs and a 230-seat classroom.

KU officials on Monday also announced a major donation toward the building. Paul Chang, who received his master's degree from KU in 1985 and is chairman of Sunrise Telecom Inc. in San Jose, Calif., has pledged $500,000 toward the project.

Sunrise Telecom makes equipment for such companies as Sprint, Verizon Wireless and SBC Communications.

John Scarffe, KU Endowment Association spokesman, said many donors to the building wished to remain anonymous.

Previous major announced gifts were:

Paul and Virginia Miller estate, Hays, gave $9 million in 1998. Paul Miller, a KU alumnus, was a banker and investor. The Millers' total donation to KU was $10.2 million.

Frank and Barbara Becker, Lawrence, gave $100,000 in 2001. Frank Becker, a KU alumnus, was CEO of Becker Corp., an El Dorado trucking company.

Charlie and Jane Spahr, Shaker Heights, Ohio, gave $1 million in 2001. Charlie Spahr, a KU alumnus, was chairman and CEO of Standard Oil Co. of Ohio.

The multimedia classroom in the new building will be named for the Spahrs, whose name also adorns the engineering library. Hummels said officials will decide a name for the new building closer to its dedication.

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