Former Kansas University Chancellor Deane Malott and his wife, Eleanor, added trees and shrubs to a once-barren campus.
Now, their son is continuing the tradition.
On Friday, KU officials honored Robert Malott for his $1 million donation to create a campus gateway at 15th and Iowa streets.
"I believe this campus is as beautiful as any campus that I've had the pleasure of visiting," Malott said.
The gateway, near KU's Visitor Center, will include a 95-foot-long, 8-foot-high stone sign, native trees and grasses and a plaza area. It is under construction, with completion scheduled for July.
During a ceremony at the Visitor Center Friday, Chancellor Robert Hemenway said the gateway was an appropriate tribute to Deane Malott, who served as chancellor from 1939 to 1951. Eleanor Malott, who spearheaded many campus plantings, was often seen on campus wearing a straw hat and carrying a watering can to care for the trees, flowers and shrubs.
"It's the beauty of the campus that people carry around with them as a memory of what it was like to go to KU," Hemenway said.
The gateway is the first project in a $22 million landscaping plan scheduled for the next 10 years. It includes walkways, reconfiguring Jayhawk Boulevard and Memorial Drive, and new plantings.
Robert Malott and his wife, Elizabeth "Ibby" Malott, live in Kenilworth, Ill. Robert Malott, a 1948 KU graduate in chemistry, spent 40 years with FMC Corporation in Chicago, including time as the company's president and CEO and chairman.
The landscaping plan is part of the $500 million "KU First" fund-raising campaign organized by the KU Endowment Association.
"It's a project that would be out of the question without private funds," Hemenway said. "I can't imagine going to the Kansas Legislature right now and saying, 'We want money for walkways and trees and flowering shrubs.'"
Jessica Bankston, San Angelo, Tex., senior, also spoke to the group of about 125 people, saying improving campus would help recruiting efforts.
"Twenty minutes of being here and seeing what a beautiful place this is was what it took to decide I should go here," she said. "I thought this is what a university should look like. This university is a place you simply want to be. It elicits good feelings."