Archive for Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Illinois couple donates $10 million to KU School of Engineering

Lila and Al Self

Lila and Al Self

April 6, 2010


Couple donates $10M to KU

An Illinois couple donated $10 million to KU's engineering school. The money will go to help deserving students in the school. Enlarge video

An Illinois couple has donated $10 million to Kansas University’s engineering program to support an academic enrichment program for the school.

The gift from Madison “Al” and Lila Self of Hinsdale, Ill., brings their total contributions to the KU Endowment Association to $44 million, making them KU’s largest individual donors.

Their most recent gift will go toward the Madison A. and Lila Self Engineering Leadership Fellows (SELF) program, which provides extra academic opportunities and financial support for select students studying engineering and computer science.

“What we’re looking for in these engineering students are people who are dedicated and motivated,” Al Self said. “That’s the way the program is set up.”

Other areas of KU that the Selfs have supported include the SELF graduate fellowship, the Mossberg Pharmacy Professorship and the Society of Self Fellows.

Students enrolled in the program refine their skills through mentoring and leadership opportunities. Students in the program have met with business leaders including Ford CEO Alan Mulally, Google vice president Brian McClendon and former Royal Dutch Shell executive Linda Zarda Cook.

In a typical year, 16 to 18 students are admitted into the program, and currently 43 students are enrolled. The first class of the program began in fall 2007. With the new donation, the program will be able to accept 80 students, and, beginning in fall 2011, students will be eligible to receive up to $24,000 over four years.

“The SELF program has had an amazing impact on the School of Engineering, the students and the university,” engineering Dean Stuart Bell said in a news release. “The enhanced program will follow this success and we will build one of the foremost leadership programs in the country.”

Al and Lila Self are native Kansans, and were married in 1943, when Al earned his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from KU. In 1947, the Selfs acquired Bee Chemical Co. in Lansing, Ill., and transformed the company from a three-person operation into an international producer of polymers.

Al later served as chairman and CEO of Tioga International, and now is president of Allen Financial, LLC.


someguy 7 years, 11 months ago

That money will help teach a lot of people to drive trains.

kusp8 7 years, 11 months ago

The SELF program is a BIG deal to students in the School of Engineering. That's awesome that the program is being funded at an even higher level.

BigPrune 7 years, 11 months ago


Just remember, when some pompous ass doesn't need things explained to them because they are "an engineer," always ask, "with what railroad?"

Not that all engineers are know-it-all's, only most of them

Paul R Getto 7 years, 11 months ago

Well done, folks and thanks for your generous support.

bearded_gnome 7 years, 11 months ago

but I thought we were supposed to hate the rich, make them "pay their fair share" by punishing success and taxing the bejesus out of anybody earning more than $250,000.00!

KU_cynic 7 years, 11 months ago

Thank you, Al and Lila, for making generous and long-lasting financial contributions that will positively affects generations of students for years to come.

Dana Anderson, Ward family, Booth family, McCarthy family and all the others who have given so much to KU Athletics, please follow the Selfs' example and step up in a big way for academic needs at KU! The golden calf of KU Athletics is fat enough!

Legend 7 years, 11 months ago


Before passing such judgment on the other families you named, you might also want to understand that each of those families has donated many more dollars to the academic side of the University than they have to Athletics. Donors/donations to Athletics are more well known but giving to academics makes up the lion share of gifts to the University each and every year.

Your righteousness sounds like a child getting upset that his sister gets the last slice of pizza. Never mind that he already ate six pieces and this is only her second!! It's not fair!!!

9070811 7 years, 11 months ago

I have a friend majoring in environmental and sustainable engineering. There is no way she would be able to go to school if she had not been awarded a SELF scholarship. She is extremely appreciative of all the help she has received from this program.

beawolf 7 years, 11 months ago

lawrenceguy40 ,

Considering most of your comments on these blogs, most everyone (not only engineers) would consider you to be "sub-human". Considering the fact your wife actually married you, she probably was in need of a strong lecture. I have a feeling most of the other patrons applauded when you left.

This was a magnanimous and well appreciated donation.

KU_cynic 7 years, 11 months ago


Yeah, right; the scales have fallen from my eyes. After all, just think of all the teaching, learning, and researching at KU that is going on in Anderson Hall, Booth Hall, Ward Hall, and McCarthy Hall. And think of the great scholars we've recruited or retained with the Anderson Chair, the Booth Chair, the Ward Chair, and the McCarthy Chair.

I guess that's why you're "Legend", i.e., a nonhistorical or unverifiable story passed down and accepted popularly as true.

And that pizza analogy -- wow, you really zinged me with that one.

beawolf 7 years, 11 months ago

"But why should we have to fund the education of arrogant brits"... Sorry, I've never met an arrogant Brit (even when I lived in London). In any event, considering the tone of your posts, it seems like the pot is calling the kettle black.

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