Editorial: Art Legacy

Marilyn Stokstad is the gift that keeps on giving to Kansas University. Her distinguished career as an educator and art historian was an immeasurable contribution to KU, its students and the people of Kansas. Now she has made sure her legacy will continue by establishing an endowed directorship at KU’s Spencer Museum of Art.

The Marilyn Stokstad Director fund will strengthen the museum that Stokstad called “one of the jewels” of the university by supporting research and travel for the director, internships for students and faculty, and engagement of scholars from other academic disciplines. As Stokstad noted, it’s a gift “which will benefit the museum in perpetuity.”

The contribution is just the latest way that Stokstad has demonstrated her commitment to KU. She joined the KU faculty in 1958 and taught more than 20 different courses before retiring in 2002. She directed the KU Museum of Art, which became the Spencer, from 1961 to 1968 and served as associate dean of KU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1972 to 1976. At a time when women still were a rarity in university leadership positions, she was both a pioneer and mentor. She is known throughout the world for her scholarship and the art history textbooks she authored, including books used in art history courses at universities across the country.

The Stokstad Director is just the third named position at KU both established by and named for a woman. Stokstad has honored the university with her creativity and scholarship for more than 50 years. The fund she has established is a fitting tribute to her work, as well as her lasting commitment to and affection for KU.