Archive for Friday, May 13, 2011

KU engineering school receives $32 million gift from Spahr family

KU School of Engineering Dean Stuart Bell, with the help of a few students, announces that Charles and Mary Jane Spahr have given $45 million in total gifts to the university. The Spahrs' estate gave $32 million, the largest estate gift in KU's history, to the School of Engineering Friday, May 13, 2011.

KU School of Engineering Dean Stuart Bell, with the help of a few students, announces that Charles and Mary Jane Spahr have given $45 million in total gifts to the university. The Spahrs' estate gave $32 million, the largest estate gift in KU's history, to the School of Engineering Friday, May 13, 2011.

May 13, 2011


Charles and Mary Jane Spahr

Charles and Mary Jane Spahr

The Kansas University School of Engineering is the beneficiary of a $32 million gift from the estate of Charles E. and Mary Jane Bruckmiller Spahr, the largest estate gift received in the history of the university.

“It’s a great time to celebrate the culmination of many years of working with Charlie and Janie Spahr,” said Dale Seuferling, president of the KU Endowment Association.

The gift was announced Friday afternoon at a reception at the school.

During their lifetime, the Spahrs donated $13 million to KU, Seuferling said, in addition to the $32 million estate gift.

The money will be used to create an endowed fund designed to benefit the KU engineering school in perpetuity.

The amount generated annually will grow over time, but will likely begin generating more than $1.5 million every year for the engineering school, Seuferling said.

“It’s a legacy that will continue to impact the school for decades to come,” said Stuart Bell, KU’s engineering dean.

Charles died in 2009, and Mary Jane died in 2010 after living most of their lives in Shaker Heights, Ohio. He grew up in Independence, Mo., before graduating from KU with a civil engineering degree in 1934. Spahr’s wife graduated in 1938.

After graduating, Charles joined Standard Oil of Ohio, where he became president in 1957 and CEO in 1959. He has received several awards from KU, receiving the Distinguished Service Citation in 1964, the Fred Ellsworth Medallion in 1983 and the Distinguished Engineering Service Award in 1980.

The engineering school intends to use the money in support of its plan to generate more engineers for the state of Kansas.

The funds will be used for student scholarships, student competitions and other student projects, Seuferling said. It will also provide faculty professorships that will allow KU to recruit and retain talented professors, along with other support.

The Spahrs’ earlier gifts have provided for construction of the Spahr Engineering Library, the Spahr Engineering Classroom in Eaton Hall, the Bruckmiller Room in Adams Alumni Center and scholarships and professorships.

Momentum is building at the KU engineering school in other areas, too. Construction is ongoing on an $18.8 million research building near Learned Hall. The school is seeking state support to issue $65 million in bonds to build a 100,000-square-foot classroom building that would be adjacent to the building under construction.

Bell said the school is trying to grow the number of engineers it generates each year by 60 percent by 2017.

The Spahrs’ gift — in addition to being the biggest estate gift KU has ever received — is among the largest donations of any sort ever received by the university. The single largest gift to KU was a $42 million pledge from the Hall Family Foundation in 2001.

That gift supported life sciences, the humanities, the Edwards Campus and the KU School of Business.


lawrenceguy40 6 years, 8 months ago


The Spahr family did well from the old American model of free enterprise and rewarding hard work.

KU supports liberal indoctrination, funding lazy bums and robbing the hard working taxpayer. Charles Spahr will be turning in his grave when he sees how his well-meaning legacy has helped to destroy America at the hands of liberal academics like barry o and those on the hill at ku.

livinginlawrence 6 years, 8 months ago

So when you said "Misguided!", you were referring to the viewpoint you were preparing to express, right?

someguy 6 years, 8 months ago

I only fly in airplanes designed by conservative engineers.

MyName 6 years, 8 months ago

Yes, because clearly every student that has graduated from KU since 1960 has been a robot unable to think for him or herself and blindly wedded to a single ideology. Pay no attention to those KU grads who have a law degree and work for the GOP! And the Rep. from the 2nd district is a PLANT!

MyName 6 years, 8 months ago

I meant the 3rd district, but whateva.

Bob Forer 6 years, 8 months ago

Its a shame that some folks deem fit to denigrate an historically generous gift with a gratuitous, irrelevant and sophomoric political rant. Mr. Spahr was a very capable and successful individual who only recently passed away. I am sure he would disagree with you that his largess "has helped to destroy America."

So what are you, LawrenceGuy? A knave? Or a fool?

devobrun 6 years, 8 months ago

Doesn't that make about %100 million when added to the state's largess? Wow, gold plated pocket protectors for all incoming freshmen.

MyName 6 years, 8 months ago

I think the plan is to have the same kind of pocket protectors, but have more engineers period. And I don't think state funding of a state university should be considered a "generous gift", especially if they are in the form of bonds which have to be paid back.

devobrun 6 years, 8 months ago

Yea well, I don't see any massive funding for the arts, or English, or the languages in general.

Meanwhile, engineers all over the world have been redirected toward projects that have failed repeatedly. Alternative energy is alternative, and not mainstream, because it has never worked. But the money for research continues to pour in. Einstein didn't have or need any money to be innovative. Neither did the Wright Bros.

And the next great technology breakthrough will come from Never has before.

muttonchops 6 years, 8 months ago

Would agree with innovation not REQUIRING money, although these days, with the fields people are making advances in (so technology heavy) it's expensive to do any kind of research in the field.

Einstein developed theories, and that really doesn't have a lot of cost other than his time. I can tell you that the Wright Bros needed money to build their aircraft. They didn't just "think" them into existence.

Why do we need massive funding for the arts, or English, or the languages? Perhaps if those students are planning on pursuing a future in teaching, but there isn't a whole lot of utility from producing arts and/or English majors.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

"Alternative" energy does work. It works everyday, all across the planet.

Does it need further R & D to significantly replace fossil fuels? Of course. And there are thousands of people engaged in that work. Some, not all, are at universities, whether in engineering departments or doing basic research. Just because that research gets state funding doesn't automatically taint the value of that research, even though your ideological biases apparently lead you to think so.

"Einstein didn't have or need any money to be innovative."

Einstein also didn't ever actually make anything. He was an academic, and while he didn't get much institutional support early in his career, for most of his life, he was relatively well paid by the institutions that employed him.

"Neither did the Wright Bros."

Their earliest, primitive airplanes they made were largely useless. They could barely get one passenger off the ground, and couldn't fly more than a couple of miles. To build anything truly useful, they needed resources, and in a capitalist economy, access to resources requires access to money. They got that money, which meant they got the resources they needed.

So, yes, money can be very important for technological breakthroughs.

webmocker 6 years, 8 months ago

devobrun says: "And the next great technology breakthrough will come from Never has before."

The Internet, which some might consider a technology breakthrough, was developed through massive defense department spending. Just one example...

Bob Reinsch 6 years, 8 months ago

lawrenceguy40, That has to be one of the most IGNORANT posts I have ever read. The KU Engineering School has a number of fine, able faculty, and to state that they are liberal across the board demonstrates a complete lack of insight into what is really happening within Learned Hall. You'll find a couple of liberals, but I think across the board you will find a much higher percentage of moderate and conservative faculty in the Engineering schools than just about any other school on campus. Save your broad brush for painting barns. KU's engineering school deserves a finer touch and a much richer palette for their portrait.

Jimo 6 years, 8 months ago

Perhaps, as at Florida State University, we should allow the Koch Bros. personally approve or veto all faculty hiring?

Ryan Gerstner 6 years, 8 months ago

Kudos to the Spahr family. What a generous and phenomenal gift! Thank you!

pusscanthropus 6 years, 8 months ago

I bet lawrenceguy doesn't even have a bachelor's degree. Yet he feels compelled to take any opportunity to tie higher education with liberalism and those "lazy bum" professors.

lawrenceguy, do you ever drive over bridges or take elevators? You obviously have the internet, and I bet you watch Glenn Beck. So, think about it, you depend on engineers every day.

Sigmund 6 years, 8 months ago

Those kids should be holding signs that read $4.5X10^7.

devobrun 6 years, 8 months ago

Innovation draws money. Money does not create innovation. There is a big difference between funding an idea and funding an agency, person, or institution with the intent on creating new ideas. The airplane and internet didn't draw big bucks until they were conceived and demonstrated. The early airplanes and internet didn't work very well, and they didn't cost very much either. But people of vision sank money into the ideas and off they went.

This development cycle is quite the opposite from money thrown at KU, or money thrown at technologies that don't work. No Bozo, windmill power generation doesn't work. Otherwise the government wouldn't have to subsidize it at every turn. Want a recent example?

It's just one more time that windmills foul up the works. If the idea works, investors would be flocking to it. They aren't. The government keeps throwing money at alternatives, but nobody else is. Investment in alternative energy is tiny compared to....oh, I don't know...hmm, shale gas. More money is being poured into gas leases, drilling rigs, options, people, pipelines and such than windmills will ever see. Because it works, and windmills don't. Again, money is going to shale gas because it works, it is demonstrated. Money follows innovation, not the other way around.

Bob Reinsch 6 years, 8 months ago

Um.. were you aware that wind power creates about 25% of the energy generated in Denmark? I guess I don't quite understand what you mean when you state that it doesn't work. It seems to work for the Danes.

devobrun 6 years, 8 months ago

Wind power is proportional to wind speed....cubed. That is a very sensitive function. A wind speed change from 18 mph to 15 mph results in a decrease of 42% power output. There are no electrical storage devises that can efficiently store billions of joules required to mitigate the variable and stochastic exigencies of wind power supply. Much of the wind power is dumped because it is so unreliable.

The Danes system does not work:

The earlier link I gave shows a situation in Oregon that has arisen due to a combination of wind and hydro power not having a place to go. The river must run through the turbines, but the wind power can't also generate because there is no place for the power to go.

Even if power transmission lines were beefed up, the power would be transferred to areas that already have stable power generation from coal, gas, hydro and nukes. Windmills are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. They are mandated by top-down bureaucrats.

And they are a waste of money, time and CO2. Yes, they require CO2 to build and maintain. They aren't zero CO2 emission.
They pollute with noise, CO2, and death to birds. They are an eyesore. Because of the speed cubed function, wind is too unreliable to be useful.

You are being fed a pile of propaganda. By engineers and business people who stand to make money from your ignorance. You subsidize this folly with higher electricity prices and tax dollars. Costs go up but the return to society does not. It doesn't work

drudoo21 6 years, 8 months ago

You have clearly never been close to a wind turbine:

Those things are really cranking out some noise! Take a trip out west and find out for yourself. Until you have experience with this pieces of machinery and stop believing what the internet tells you, I recommend you keep your opinion to yourself.

Maybe the the School of Engineering will allow you to attend a class or two...

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