Estate gift from KU alumnus will fund $5.5 million in scholarships
LAWRENCE — A bequest from the estate of University of Kansas alumnus Richard “Dick” Smith will provide $5.5 million to KU for scholarships.
The scholarship fund will be divided equally, with half providing scholarships to undergraduate students universitywide and half providing scholarships to students studying geology.
Smith’s $5.5 million bequest was half of an $11 million estate gift that was shared with Wichita State University. The fund at WSU also will support scholarships. Smith specified that the scholarships at both institutions cover all expenses related to college, including tuition, fees, books and housing.
Smith’s estate also distributed gifts of $200,000 to Spencer Museum of Art and $250,000 to the KU School of Medicine-Wichita.
Smith, a longtime resident of Wichita, earned a bachelor’s degree in geology from KU in 1954 and went on to found Range Oil Co. He died in January 2021 at the age of 87.
KU Chancellor Douglas A. Girod expressed gratitude for the gift and lauded Smith’s legacy of philanthropy and support for higher education.
“This remarkable gift will create opportunities for KU and its students for generations to come,” Girod said. “It also reinforces the educational partnership between Wichita State and KU as both strive to create a stronger Kansas through higher education.”
Sondra Langel, Smith’s wife, said her husband believed strongly in the power of education.
“Dick believed that a college education could have an incomparable impact on the direction an individual’s life could take,” Langel said. “His family and friends join in celebrating the opportunities his scholarships will create for thousands of young Kansas students.”
KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling said Smith had a long history of contributions to KU in the areas of geology, the arts, athletics and medicine.
“He was proud of his alma mater and wanted to provide today’s students the kind of educational opportunities that helped him be successful,” Seuferling said.
KU Endowment is 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.