Gift from estate will provide $1.4 million for KU journalism scholarships

John and Mary Kaiser.

John Kaiser was always clear about what he wanted to do with his gift for the Kansas University School of Journalism, Ann Brill says.

“John, in particular, was adamant: ‘I want to send a kid to college,’ ” said Brill, dean of the journalism school.

He and his wife, Mary Kaiser, did that with a gift they made in 2005, and now they’ll send more kids to college. A $1.36 million gift from their estate, the KU Endowment Association announced Thursday, will go toward the scholarship fund for KU journalism students they established eight years ago.

Mary Kaiser died in January at age 84, after John died in 2007 at 79.

John Kaiser, a 1951 KU journalism alumnus, was a marketing executive for the magazine division of Dun and Bradstreet in Chicago after earlier working as a journalist for the U.S. Coast Guard and Capper Publications in Topeka.

John grew up in Ottawa, where his father owned a drug store.

The students who receive scholarships from the John P. Kaiser Journalism Scholarship Fund must major in journalism and be from the state of Kansas, with preference given to students from Ottawa.

The journalism school has awarded Kaiser Scholarships to nine students since 2005, and it will be able to give out more than twice as many now.

Each scholarship lasts four years, and some have provided a full ride — paying for a student’s entire college education, as the Kaisers wished.

“They did not have children of their own, and that was something that was really important to them,” Brill said.

The scholarships help the school recruit top students and open opportunities for students who might not have them, she said.

And John Kaiser did not have an easy time getting through college himself.

“John struggled to come to KU and get his degree,” Brill said. “He was someone who had to keep working, and was someone who really appreciated the value of his education, because he really had to earn it.”