The money is important, and how the funds will be used is important. However, the most important part of the recently announced fund to recognize outstanding Kansas University librarians is the names of the donors: Phil Anschutz and the Anschutz Foundation, and Gene and Gretchen Budig.
Anschutz is a 1961 KU graduate, and Budig was the university’s chancellor from 1980 to 1994. Both the Anschutz and the Budig families realize the importance of superior libraries. Budig has said that there are no great universities without superior libraries, and the gifts announced this week recognize the vital role of libraries and librarians.
Anschutz and Budig have been generous in their support of KU. Although both now live far away from Mount Oread, the recent gift offers great evidence that they continue to have a deep interest in the university. These are two important and influential “alumni” of KU: Anschutz, a Kansan who has been extremely successful in his business career and provided the funds for the Anschutz Library, and Budig, who, although a Nebraskan by birth and a graduate of the University of Nebraska, has perhaps been more generous in his fiscal contributions to KU than any other KU chancellor.
The university is fortunate to have these two men continue to show their respect and allegiance to the university. Alumni such as Anschutz and Budig, along with the more than 40,000 members of the KU Alumni Association, represent the real strength of the university. It sends an important message when two such nationally recognized figures show that they want to do what they can to help build the school into a truly outstanding state-aided research institution.