An endowed maintenance fund for a new Kansas University scholarship hall should set the standard for other campus buildings financed by private donors.
Later this month, the university will announce that Carl Krehbiel, a Moundridge resident who donated $4 million to build KU's 12th scholarship hall, also will give the university an additional $400,000 to endow a fund to provide money for ongoing maintenance at the hall.
This isn't the first time a donor has provided ongoing funding for a KU building, but it doesn't happen as often as it should. More often, donor funds are used to construct and perhaps furnish a building that then is turned over to the state, which becomes responsible for its operation and maintenance.
This fact is not lost on state legislators as they consider the large backlog of maintenance needs on state university campuses. Although the state is grateful for the generous private donations that provide new campus structures, universities also must be mindful of the additional strain those buildings will place on their maintenance budgets.
Krehbiel, who served in the Kansas Legislature from 1999 to 2006, probably was more aware than most donors of the maintenance issues facing state universities. Rather than allow the hall that will honor his KU alumni parents to fall into disrepair or struggle for maintenance funding, he decided to endow an accompanying fund to provide for that maintenance.
In this case the maintenance fund is equal to 10 percent of the project's cost. That's not an insignificant amount, but it's a donation university officials must be willing to solicit for other projects if they are to avoid adding to their schools' maintenance backlog. Even if the cost of actual construction must be reduced, all privately funded projects should include money for ongoing maintenance needs.
Chancellor Robert Hemenway agreed, in discussing the additional Krehbiel gift. When the university receives donations for new buildings, he said, "we also should be asking for money to maintain them."
This certainly is the prudent course for the state, the university and the private donors. Congratulations to Krehbiel and KU officials for setting an important precedent for other state universities and their donors.