A $4 million donation to Kansas University from Tom and Judy Bowser, of Olathe, will benefit the KU Cancer Center, Kansas Athletics, the School of Music and the School of Journalism and Mass Communications.
“It kind of touches a number of areas, and really is reflective of these two individuals and how the University of Kansas has touched their lives over the years,” said Dale Seuferling, president of the KU Endowment Association.
The gift will be distributed equally among the four beneficiaries, and is part of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, scheduled for a public kickoff in April.
Tom Bowser is a 1968 graduate of KU’s journalism school, and retired in 2010 as president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and as chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in Chicago.
He was captain of KU’s first Big 8 championship swimming team and a member of KU’s All-American 4x100 relay team.
He said KU had a profound impact on both him and his wife, now in their early 60s, and they felt fortunate to be in a position to be able to give back.
“We’re able to, in essence, pay the university back for the many gifts the university has given us throughout our lives,” he said.
The athletic department gift will provide scholarships for men’s Olympic sports, and will include the name of Tom Bowser’s swimming coach, Dick Reamon.
The gift for the journalism school includes funds for a scholarship and a new lecture series honoring Bowser’s longtime friend Ken Hickerson, a 1967 KU journalism graduate who consulted for him at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.
Judy Bowser earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from KU in 1969 and was a choir director and classroom music teacher in public schools, and is a three-year cancer survivor who was treated at the KU Cancer Center. The cancer gift will support patient care at KU Hospital and a research fellowship at the KU School of Medicine.
The gift to the music school will provide graduate and undergraduate scholarships in music education, Tom Bowser said.
“Music education in public schools needs private support now more than ever,” Judy Bowser said in a prepared statement.