Couple gives $32 million to University of Kansas for engineering program

University of Kansas alumnus Charles E. Spahr and his wife, Mary Jane Spahr, have donated $32 million to KU Endowment through their estate.

Their gift will benefit KU's School of Engineering.

Prior to their latest gift, the Spahrs had given $13 million to KU, bringing their gift total to $45 million.

"The Spahrs' lives were transformed by attending KU, and through this generous gift, they will in turn transform the lives of generations of stduents," said Chancellor Bernadette Gray Little.

Charlie Spahr earned a bachelor's degree in civil engineering at KU in 1934. After graduation, he joined Standard Oil of Ohio. During World War II, Spahr served as a major in the Army Corps of Engineers. He returned to work for Standard Oil, becoming president and CEO before retiring in 1977.

The endowment will help with the school's Building on Excellence Initiative. As part of the plan, the school hopes to see a 60 percent increase in degree-earning engineering students by 2017.