Spencer Museum of Art at sunset

The Anschutz Foundation Donates $200,000 to Spencer Museum at KU

Spencer Museum of Art
Spencer Museum of Art

A $200,000 gift from The Anschutz Foundation of Denver significantly advances an academic programs initiative launched by the Spencer Museum of Art at the University of Kansas.

The donation will be counted as matching funds toward the $1 million challenge grant awarded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to the Spencer in 2008. This represents part of a long-term Mellon initiative to promote effective collaboration between university museums and academic departments, to deepen faculty engagement with the museum, and to strengthen the educational role of collections. The match must be fulfilled by September 2011.

Including the gift from The Anschutz Foundation, the Spencer has received commitments of $578,797 toward the challenge grant.

“This gift from The Anschutz Foundation recognizes the essential role that the Spencer Museum plays in the life of the university,” said KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little. “It is my hope that this generous gift will help inspire other gifts, so that we can swiftly complete the Mellon Foundation’s challenge grant.”

The Anschutz Foundation was established by Philip and Nancy Anschutz in 1983. A native of Russell, Kan., Philip Anschutz earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from KU in 1961. His father, Fred Anschutz, attended KU in 1933. Philip’s sister, Sue Anschutz Rodgers, graduated from KU, as did her daughters Melissa Rodgers Padgett, Melinda Rodgers Couzens, and Susan Rodgers Drumm.

The Anschutz Foundation also has provided financial support to the School of Business, the Marian and Fred Anschutz Library, the Dole Institute of Politics, the Anschutz Sports Pavilion and the Adams Alumni Center.

Saralyn Reece Hardy, director of the Spencer Museum of Art, said The Anschutz Foundation’s contribution will enhance the Spencer’s efforts to support the academic mission of the university. “We are deeply honored to receive this gift,” Hardy said. “We are confident that, like The Anschutz Foundation and the many other generous donors who have contributed to this initiative, additional KU alumni and friends will step forward to assist us in meeting the Mellon endowment challenge.”

Hardy said the initiative will make a positive impact on the quality of education at KU — from the arts to the humanities to the sciences — by strengthening existing collaborations, developing new ones and cultivating joint events. In addition, expanded curricula and research will play an important role in deepening formal and informal learning at all levels.

The museum has recruited Celka Straughn, Ph.D., to develop the initiative and ensure that projects are relevant to interests of students and faculty. “She’s a scholar with international experience who will promote innovations in education while expanding the museum's multidisciplinary partnerships,” said Hardy.

The gift will be managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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