LAWRENCE — University of Kansas School of Law alumnus Art Piculell of Portland, Oregon, and his late wife, Dee, have made a $500,000 gift to establish a professorship honoring the late Professor Earl B. Shurtz, who taught at KU Law from 1955 to 1977.
Art said he appreciated the opportunity to spend time with Professor Shurtz.
“We would discuss the subjects of law and the subjects of life,” Art said. “He had a genuine concern for his students. For instance, if he saw you sitting in the library, he would come over and talk to you. That’s who he was.”
Art and Dee met at Emporia State University, where in 1959 they earned bachelor’s degrees, Dee in music education, Art in psychology and sociology. The couple married and moved to Wichita, where Art became a social worker with the Sedgwick County Board of Social Welfare and Dee was a grade school teacher. Later, they moved to Scott City, where Art was the county welfare director of both Scott and Wichita counties and Dee taught school. In 1962, they moved to Lawrence so that Art could attend law school. Dee taught grade school in Lawrence and served as president of the law wives’ club.
“We just basically are paying back for what we got,” Art said. “Dee and I were very fortunate to get our educations and to benefit from that.”
In 1965, after Art earned his law degree, the couple returned to western Kansas, where Art practiced law in Cimarron. In 1972, Art and Dee moved to Portland, Oregon, where Art was admitted to practice law in the state. In Portland, the couple developed residential communities and invested in commercial buildings in Oregon, Washington and Arizona through their companies, Homesite Development and the Piculell Group.
“I enjoyed practicing law, but I knew that wasn’t my bent in life,” Art said. “The benefits that I received from studying the law were applicable to the real estate businesses we ventured into.”
This is the second professorship Art and Dee Piculell established at the law school; in 2004, they created the J.B. Smith Distinguished Professor in Constitutional Law.
Stephen Mazza, dean of the School of Law, expressed appreciation for the gift.
“As so many of our graduates have, Art took the analytical skills he learned in law school and used them to gain success in an area outside of a traditional legal practice. His earlier gift to the law school was incredibly generous, and to follow that with another major gift speaks to his and Dee’s love for the school and their generosity,” Mazza said.
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.