Couple’s $2 million gift will create architecture scholarship at KU

Donation also includes $400,000 for KU-affiliated Reach Out and Read Kansas City initiative

Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings, of Kansas City, Mo.

A Kansas University alumnus and his wife have donated $1.6 million to establish the Michael A. Cummings Scholarship for architecture students at KU, with a preference for those from rural communities.

The gift is part of a $2 million donation by Cummings and his wife, Pamela Miller, of Kansas City, Mo., KU Endowment announced Monday. The donation also includes $400,000 for Reach Out and Read Kansas City, a nonprofit coalition based at KU Medical Center.

Cummings, who grew up in Burlington, earned bachelor’s degrees in environmental design and architectural engineering from KU in 1983, according to KU Endowment. He is a principal with the international firm of TK Architects, where he has worked since graduation.

Cummings said there’s a difference in resources available to students from small towns.

Pamela Miller and Michael Cummings, of Kansas City, Mo.

“I’m hoping this scholarship will help some people who will have a similar experience to what I have had,” he said in a KU Endowment news release, “which is to find a career that wasn’t on their radar and from there to end up with a wonderful and fulfilling career.”

Mahesh Daas, dean of KU’s School of Architecture, Design and Planning, said he was grateful for the gift.

“This scholarship will give students who come from rural communities the opportunity to become part of the vision we have for all of our students, and that is that each should become a pioneering force for achieving global impact through design,” Daas said in the release.

Reach Out and Read Kansas City provides books to low-income children when they visit health care providers for checkups, according to the organization’s website. The effort, part of the national Reach Out and Read Program, is in partnership with KU Endowment and KU Medical Center.

Miller, who retired from Children’s Mercy Hospital in 2014 and previously worked for KU Endowment, has volunteered with the program, according to KU Endowment.

Being included in the couple’s estate planning is “transformative” for Reach Out and Read Kansas City, executive director Mark Mattison said in the release. “It lays the foundation for our development of a planned giving program.”