Changing Lives — Faculty

Lifting up talented students, inspirational teachers and innovative researchers by supporting their dreams creates ripples of influence. One scholarship may be the support a student needs to attend KU or finish a degree. One professorship could ignite hundreds of minds. One research award could fuel a discovery that helps countless people.

Now imagine the potential with the 735 new scholarships and 53 new professorships established by donors during Far Above. Four students and two faculty who benefited from this support shared their stories. An MBA student hopes to serve nonprofits. A law graduate wants to help people overcome difficulties. A journalism graduate works to elect effective leaders. A medical student helped develop implants for scoliosis patients. A professor strives to understand how ocean currents and weather influence life. An internationally recognized oncologist aims to save lives. Read on to learn about them. 

One act of generosity can make a difference for generations. The possibilities are endless because donors invested in KU people, the heart of our university. So many changes are already happening, and we can’t wait to see what is next. 


Gene Rankey, Ph.D. 

Hubert H. and Kathleen M. Hall Professor of Geology

Kansas Interdisciplinary Carbonates Consortium

Doctorate in geology 1996


What is your passion?

I strive to understand the way the world works. I study waves, tides and ocean currents and how they transport sediment, construct the seascape and influence life. I’m also interested in using modern systems to better interpret the history of the planet.


How does your professorship support you?

My professorship, established during Far Above, helps me do things quickly or that fall outside of available funding. I recently did an expedition in a new-to-me geographic area to test ideas that could lead to larger projects. I also was able to send two students to see a unique core in the Netherlands. 


What brought you to KU?

KU has the best program in carbonate geology. When I was a doctoral student here, I had the pleasure to work with Hub Hall on the department’s alumni advisory committee. I also feel fortunate that I was able to personally express my appreciation to Kathleen Hall. 


What makes KU a great place to teach and do research?

KU is a challenging, supportive atmosphere with opportunities to learn. As a teacher, I love seeing students begin to develop intellectually and become passionate about excelling. 


What interests you outside of work?

Two of my kids were field assistants on a research trip to Kiribati, a low-lying Pacific island nation being affected by rising sea levels. My kids played soccer with the children and noticed that many of them were barefoot and used old jugs for balls. We started the nonprofit Goals for Good Foundation to send them soccer equipment. 

Carol Fabian, M.D.

Director, Breast Cancer Prevention & Survivorship Research Center

University Distinguished Professor 

Mark and Bette Morris Family Endowed Chair in Cancer Prevention Research 

Associate Director of Clinical Research, The University of Kansas Cancer Center


What is your passion?

I am focused on developing more accurate methods of short-term breast cancer risk prediction, reducing breast cancer risk without inducing menopause symptoms and reducing the side effects of treatment. 


How has National Cancer Institute (NCI) designation made a difference?

NCI designation, achieved with Far Above support, has provided new opportunities for research and clinical trials. It also is expanding cancer prevention efforts and giving patients more access to the most advanced treatments. 


What makes KU a great place to teach and do research?

I received my bachelor’s and medical degrees from KU. I came back here because of the collaboration and team approach to teaching, treating patients and scientific discovery. 


How does your professorship support you?

My professorship gives me the freedom to explore ideas that wouldn’t receive funding from other sources. It also supports my professional development.


How do you explain your research to students? 

By analyzing tissue samples from women at high risk for breast cancer, we found that a pattern of precancerous cells in women without a clinical breast problem predicted short-term risk of breast cancer. This led to studies on prevention, including assessing the effects of lignans (found in flaxseed), omega-3 supplements, weight loss and exercise.


What are your interests outside of work? 

I enjoy spending time with my family and three grandchildren. However, patients and research are never far from conscious thought.