By Ryan Vanderhei
The KU foundation is a non-profit organization made up of individuals whose primary objective is to raise funds for KU through scholarships, building new structures, professor research and several other ways of funding. Last fiscal year the foundation raised 3.4 million dollars for the university.
The foundation is broken down into two separate entities, the primary foundation and alumni relations. Both groups have a board of members who gather and discuss options for advancing the program and establish goals to complete during the fiscal year. The foundation exercises many ways to stay connected and engage with alumni.
Board member and executive director of the foundation, Tracey Thompson, said that the foundation has access to over 62,000 alumni home addresses and approximately 25,000 alumni email addresses. The foundation works to create intriguing ways for the alumni to stay involved with the university even long after they have graduated.
Some of the ways that the foundation stays in contact with university alum include emails, mailed publications, subscriptions to the Tower magazine and the Maroon and Gold newsletter. This newsletter gives a detailed rundown of all of the events that are happening at KU, keeping the alumni informed.
An annual report is also sent to alumni, highlighting the year in review, featuring a list of all of the donors, a financial report from the fiscal year, and profiles on scholarship recipients. Phone-a-thon, an event geared towards encouraging alumni to give back, is where current KU students have personal phone calls with alumni, providing a nice touch to a typical fundraising event.
The foundation also works with the presidential ambassadors at KU to put on events where the alumni are invited back to participate. Such events include football game tailgates, wine tours, family events and many more. These events give an opportunity for alumni to come back, reunite with their alma mater and support the university.
According to Thompson, the foundation has many prolific alumni who do a tremendous job of giving back and donating to the university. One specific alumnus that she mentioned was previous board chair James Zellner (‘86). James graduated from the college of business. Thompson described Zellner as “an extremely philanthropic donor and terrific board member.” Zellner started a scholarship that is given to a KU student.
Another alum that Thompson noted is Sharon Landis (‘87) a current alumni board vice president who got her husband Bob involved in the foundation through sheer appreciation for their mission. Bob now serves as a foundation board member. Thompson described the two as “Dedicated, passionate and extremely generous with their time.”
Zellner and Landis are just two of the thousands of alumni who give back to the university in one way or another. This is made possible through the efforts of those who make up the KU foundation and alumni relations groups. These generous individuals work day in and day out to reunite alumni with their alma mater and ultimately create a better future for KU.