Students in class

Longtime KU leader and educator establishes fund for Center for Teaching Excellence

Sandra Gautt
Sandra Gautt

A gift from Sandra W. Gautt, University of Kansas faculty member in the Department of Special Education, will establish the Gautt Teaching Scholar Fund. The endowed fund will support KU’s director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. 

Gautt lives in Lawrence, Kan. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in special education from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She came to KU in 1989, where she has served as associate vice chancellor for academic affairs, vice provost for faculty development and as a member of the faculty in the Department of Special Education. She will retire at the end of this semester as professor emerita.

The Center for Teaching Excellence was established in 1997. Gautt said the center provides an opportunity to enhance both student learning and the campus teaching culture, and to make KU an even better place. 

“The vision was to create a vibrant community of faculty-scholars committed to making teaching visible and engaging in scholarly inquiry into their teaching, thus strengthening the University’s teaching culture,” said Gautt. “It provides a unique opportunity to support the synergy between teaching and research supportive of student learning.”

Gautt said her participation in KU Endowment’s Women Philanthropists for KU awakened a commitment to recognizing her passions and channeling leadership opportunities in ways that will continue to benefit KU. “The current gift represents my commitment to the center and its legacy,” she said.

Dale Seuferling, president of KU Endowment, said that as a faculty member and donor, Gautt has made a profound statement about her belief in the teaching mission of the University of Kansas. “She joins the ranks of her many faculty and staff colleagues who are so generous in their philanthropic support of KU,” he said.

David Shulenburger, KU provost from 1996 to 2006, described the center as a “jewel of the university.” 

“The center has been successful in building a community of faculty focused on student learning,” said Shulenburger. “When Sandra was creating the center, she was determined that it would not be a place of last resort for faculty who consistently struggled with teaching effectiveness. Rather, she envisioned an environment that would nurture the exploration and sharing of best practices, enable all faculty to hone their teaching skills within a safe collegial space, stimulate innovation and foster intellectual inquiry into one’s teaching and student learning.”

The center’s directors and faculty rose to the challenge, said Shulenburger. “Today’s Center for Teaching Excellence clearly has met and exceeded those expectations.”

The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.

The campaign 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.

Michelle Keller

Assistant Vice President, Communications and Donor Relations 785-832-7336

Michelle Strickland

Media Relations 785-832-7363