KU announces $20 million gift for new business school

10/04/2012 9:39 AM

10/04/2012 9:40 AM

The University of Kansas School of Business plans to build a new, state-of-the-art building on campus – a plan bolstered by a $20 million lead gift from the Capitol Federal Foundation of Topeka.

The gift is the largest in the business school’s history and the largest single gift Capitol Federal Foundation has made.

The gift, to be formally announced Thursday afternoon in Lawrence, kicks off fundraising to complete construction of a $60 million, six-story, 166,000-square-foot building.

KU Endowment plans to work with alumni and friends to raise the funds needed for the building.

Capitol Federal’s gift is part of KU’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign.

“An outstanding School of Business is an integral part of every university,” John B. Dicus, chairman, president and CEO of Capitol Federal Savings, said in a statement. “We’re proud to play a role in making this building a reality. With this gift, we are giving students at the University of Kansas the opportunities they need to be successful in the business world.”

Dicus earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from KU in 1983 and a master of business administration from the school in 1985.

His father, John C. Dicus, chairman emeritus of Capitol Federal, earned a bachelor’s in business from KU in 1955. And his grandfather, mother, sister and wife also are KU graduates.

School officials said groundbreaking for the new building won’t be held until the needed money has been pledged. The new facility is expected to help KU recruit students and faculty to campus.

The new school – to be built on the east side of Naismith Drive, across from Allen Fieldhouse at the south entrance of the campus – will feature more room and upgraded technology.

“We physically don’t have the space for the students interested in studying business,” said Neeli Bendapudi, dean of the KU School of Business. “Interest is growing. A fourth of the students coming in say they want to study business.”

The current facility, which opened in 1960, also does not have the technology or features needed by students today, Bendapudi said.

The new facility will feature the latest in technology, modern learning labs and space for collaboration and research.

High school students are used to technology in the schools, Bendapudi said.

“When they come to college, they expect those amenities,” she said.

The new facility is expected to grow the number of business school graduates at KU from 500 a year to 750 in the undergraduate program and from 280 to 350 in the graduate program.

It also will help recruit faculty and staff.

“We talk about attracting students, but suddenly we’re trying to recruit the best and brightest faculty and staff,” Bendapudi said. “We think this will be a great recruiting school.”

Summerfield Hall, which houses the business school now, has 95,000 square feet of space. It will eventually be used for other purposes, to be determined later.

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