LAWRENCE — A University of Kansas department’s recent name change reflects its management of two distinct graduate education programs funded by longtime KU donors.
Self Graduate Programs administers the Self Graduate Fellowship and Self Memorial Scholarship. Both programs support KU graduate students and align with the mission of the late Madison “Al” and Lila Self to “identify, recruit, and provide development opportunities for exceptional students who demonstrate the promise to make significant contributions to their fields of study and society as a whole.”
Throughout their lifetime, the Selfs donated $106 million to the University of Kansas, making them the most generous private donors to date in the history of the university. In 1989, they launched and permanently endowed their flagship program, the Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship at KU. The fellowship accepted its first two doctoral fellows in 1991. Since that time, it has supported over 200 doctoral students. The fellowship is a four-year package awarded to incoming or first-year doctoral students from donor-defined eligible fields who demonstrate leadership, initiative and passion for achievement. It covers full tuition and fees, provides graduate research assistant support of $32,000 per year, a $5,500 professional development award, and includes a unique fellow development program.
Before the Selfs both died in 2013, they envisioned an additional program that recognizes outstanding undergraduates from KU who immediately transition into their first year of a master’s or doctoral degree program at KU. That program, now named the Madison and Lila Self Memorial Scholarship, came to fruition in 2018 with its first 11 scholars. The Self Memorial Scholarship is a one-year merit-based scholarship that is awarded to students who demonstrate leadership, initiative and passion for achievement. The scholarship provides each recipient with a $10,000 scholarship award and a unique scholar development program.
In 2019, the management of this program transitioned to the Self Graduate Fellowship department staff under the direction of Jennifer Roberts, vice provost for graduate studies, and Stefani Buchwitz, director. With the addition of the scholarship, the department name changed to Self Graduate Programs.
“Lila and Madison Self were purposeful with their charitable gifts to KU with the intention of designing impactful graduate education at KU. The department name change now reflects the establishment of the Self Memorial Scholarship in addition to the successful Self Graduate Fellowship,” said Jennifer Roberts, who in her role as vice provost also serves as managing trustee of the Self Graduate Programs. “Both programs provide funding and training experiences for graduate students and the Self’s vision and generosity continue to set a high standard for graduate education at KU. The program is poised to achieve further growth, continuing to positively impact students, and more broadly contributing to KU’s strategic plans.”
The late Madison Self was a 1943 KU graduate in chemical engineering. The late Lila Self grew up in Eudora and attended KU with the class of 1943.