LAWRENCE, Kan. — The University of Kansas (KU) recently received a $20 million gift from the Capitol Federal Foundation of Topeka. The gift will be used to build a new state-of-the-art building for the school of business. The gift represents the largest donation the foundation has ever made and the biggest donation ever received by the business school.
The gift was formally announced Thursday, Oct. 4, as part of a ceremony to kick off fundraising efforts for the $60 million, six-story, 166,000-square-foot building. The KU endowment is in charge of the fundraising plan for this structure, working with alumni and other friends of the university.
“An outstanding School of Business is an integral part of every university,” John B. Dicus, chairman, president and CEO of Capitol Federal Savings, said in a statement. “We’re proud to play a role in making this building a reality. With this gift, we are giving students at the University of Kansas the opportunities they need to be successful in the business world.”
The Dicus family has a long history with the university, which likely explains why the company’s foundation singled out KU for this funding. Dicus earned his bachelor’s degree and masters in business administration from KU in the 80s. His father, John C. Dicus, chairmen emeritus of Capitol Federal, earned a bachelor’s in business from the university in the 1950s, and both their wives also graduated from the school, along with other family members. The foundation has been focused on higher education from its inception, as former chairman Henry Bubb served on the Kansas Board of Regents. He’s also Jack Dincus’s father in law, making the family connection with KU even stronger.
Though this contribution will bring the university much closer to groundbreaking, the project is currently in a holding pattern until the entire $60 million in funding arrives. The school hopes to begin work in early 2014 and complete the project by autumn of 2015. University officials are particularly excited about that timeline because it would make the grand opening coincide with the school’s 150th anniversary.
The new building will be located near Robinson Gymnasium. The university plans to relocate a group of tennis courts that currently stand in the footprint of the planned structure. The school of business will move its entire program into the new building when it’s constructed, leaving Summerfield Hall open for other functions.
Colleges often use new facilities in recruiting and fundraising efforts. A business school targets one of the most marketable majors for universities right now. University representatives predicted the new structure would help the school boost the number of people receiving undergraduate degrees in that major from 500 to 750 annually and increase graduate degrees from 280 to 350 per year. The new building will double the business school’s available space for faculty and students. Current business students still take many classes at Summerfield Hall, the same building John Dicus attended lectures in when he was a student.
“We physically don’t have the space for the students interested in studying business,” said Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the KU School of Business, in an interview with The Wichita Eagle. “Interest is growing. A fourth of the students coming in say they want to study business.”
The Capitol Federal Foundation was established in 1999 and has donated $34 million in funding to various organizations in Kansas, including prior philanthropic relationships with KU.