2016 students in front of the gardens of Linderhof Castle in Germany

Gift of $1.6 million creates KU scholarships for language program

From left are, KU Chancellor  Bernadette Gray-Little, Carl Krehbiel,  William Keel and Susan  Gronbeck-Tedesco.
From left are, KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little, Carl Krehbiel, William Keel and Susan Gronbeck-Tedesco.

A $1.6 million gift from University of Kansas alumnus Carl Krehbiel will provide support for students attending the German Summer Language Institute programs in Holzkirchen and Eutin, Germany.

As a KU student in 1968, Krehbiel participated in the summer program in Germany.

“It was a great experience, not only to be exposed to the language, but also the culture and travel,” said Krehbiel, who lives in Moundridge. “We visited Vienna, and we went to Berlin, which was still behind the wall and the iron curtain. I’m sure a few students will find it the life-changing experience I did and might continue their study of languages or foreign relations. And it’s a broadening experience even if the participants never do that.”

Krehbiel graduated Phi Beta Kappa from KU in 1970 with a dual degree in Germanic languages and literature and international relations. An ROTC participant, he studied abroad his senior year. He also studied at the University of Southern California, where he earned his master’s degree and doctorate, and at Munich University as an Olmsted Scholar.

The endowed fund Krehbiel established will provide scholarships for KU students in perpetuity. Each year, one of the scholarships will be awarded in memory of KU alumnus L. Neil Slentz, who was also a participant in the Holzkirchen program in 1968. The other scholarships will be awarded in Krehbiel’s name.

Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little expressed her gratitude.

“This is a vital program on several levels. It helps our students gain a better understanding of the world. It assists them in honing skills in a foreign language and introduces them to another culture,” she said. “Carl Krehbiel’s gift will provide lasting opportunities for generations of KU students studying Germanic languages.”

KU’s Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures offers two eight-week summer language institutes. Eutin, one of Lawrence’s sister cities, is in northern Germany and has hosted KU students for more than four decades. The program in Holzkirchen, about 20 miles south of Munich, was established in 1961.

William Keel, chair of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, said he was thrilled with Krehbiel’s support for the program.

“It will enable literally hundreds of students to participate in that same study abroad experience,” Keel said. “They will live with a German host family, take classes in German, travel throughout Germany and get to know the language and culture firsthand.”

Keel noted that the Holzkirchen program turns 50 this year.

“The fact that Mr. Krehbiel’s gift arrived this year particularly honors the foresight of KU’s professors in the early 1960s who started this program.”

Krehbiel, a Vietnam War veteran and Green Beret, served in the U.S. Army for 20 years. In 1992, he took over the family business, Moundridge Telephone Co., following the death of his father. Elected to the state legislature in 1998, he served as a representative for the 74th District until 2006.

Krehbiel has many family connections to KU. His grandfather, Carl C. Krehbiel, was a 1913 alumnus. His father and his mother played in the KU band for basketball games in the 1940s. An earlier gift from Krehbiel funded construction of the Floyd H. and Kathryn Krehbiel Scholarship Hall, which opened in 2008 and honors his mother and late father.

The Carl C. Krehbiel German Summer Language Institute Scholarship Fund 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.

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