LAWRENCE — Students at the University of Kansas will benefit from a new center to be built on Naismith Drive, thanks to a leadership gift from KU alumni Paul and Katherine DeBruce, of Mission Hills.
The three-story center will provide much-needed dining and meeting facilities for students, faculty and visitors on the south part of campus. Moreover, it will become the permanent home of James Naismith’s original "Rules of Basket Ball" and will be connected to the northeast corner of historic Allen Fieldhouse.
The facility, which will be named the DeBruce Center, will be funded solely from private gifts and is estimated to cost $18 million. KU Endowment is working to complete funding for the 31,000-square-foot center; construction is expected to begin this year.
Paul and Katherine DeBruce graduated from KU in 1973. Katherine earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism, and Paul earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration.
“Katherine and I are excited and lucky to be a part of this new facility at KU,” said Paul DeBruce. “Our years on the Hill helped provide a foundation for each of us to be successful and give back to our community. Part of that experience was academic, but a lot of it included the many friends we made there and the fond memories of attending basketball games at Allen Fieldhouse. We hope the new center will be a place on campus that students and faculty will want to come to and enjoy. It will be a meeting place for friends and a place to further honor KU traditions.”
KU alumnus David Booth and his wife, Suzanne Deal Booth, of Austin, Texas, purchased Naismith’s original basketball rules at an auction and offered to display the document at the university. The purchase became a catalyst for the university to plan construction of this new center.
"This entire project is made possible through the generosity of KU's friends and supporters. Thanks to Paul and Katherine, the DeBruce Center will be an outstanding place for the KU community to gather and will provide the university with a space to welcome visitors and fans," said Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.
Athletics Director Sheahon Zenger expressed appreciation to the DeBruces. “The DeBruce Center will serve not only as a ‘must-see’ destination landmark for sports fans and history buffs, but also as an important, integral part of campus, benefiting KU students, faculty and visitors alike. We also again want to thank David and Suzanne Booth for ensuring that basketball's original rules found their way to their rightful home," said Zenger.
Paul DeBruce is a native of Ulysses and the son of Archie and Aileen DeBruce; Aileen graduated from KU in 1949. In 1978, he founded DeBruce Grain of Kansas City, Mo. As chief executive officer, DeBruce led a company that owned grain-handling facilities, a fertilizer distribution network, feed mills and a bean crushing plant. In 2010, DeBruce Grain became a wholly owned subsidiary of Gavilon LLC. Paul DeBruce served as chairman of the Board of Directors of the Kansas City Federal Reserve in 2011 and 2012. Moreover, he has served with other organizations, such as the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City, the Board of Trustees of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art and the Board of the American Royal.
Katherine DeBruce is a Kansas City native. She serves on the KU School of Journalism’s Far Above Campaign Steering Committee. Her career included working at the Kansas City Star and in several capacities at Kansas City Public Television from 1978 to 2000, including as director of programming and production. She has served on civic boards at Powell Gardens, the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education and the American Royal. She was a member of the Kansas Supreme Court Nominating Commission from 2008 to 2012.
The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.
The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.