male playing music

KU alumnus contributes more than $400,000 to School of Music

James Zakoura
James Zakoura

Some might call him the Music Man.

University of Kansas alumnus James Zakoura has provided more than $400,000 to KU Endowment for the School of Music. His passion is to bring music to people who otherwise would not be exposed to it.

"I am keenly interested in projects that are both impactful and meaningful," Zakoura said. "The reason that I've chosen to support the School of Music is that through statewide performances and outreach programs, the School of Music becomes the face of the University of Kansas; it has both a personal and human presence in the lives of the people of the state of Kansas and brings them great joy."

Zakoura, of Overland Park, earned two degrees at KU, a bachelor's in language arts in 1970 and a law degree in 1972. His gifts for the School of Music represent his wide range of interests and will support the Midwestern Music Academy, a summer program for youths; a music professorship; scholarships for music students; and a program that takes free-of-charge musical performances throughout Kansas.

Zakoura said everyone shares a personal connection to music.

"It is a common bond among all of us," he said. "Music is a wonderful vehicle that bridges any perceived differences among people. Music, in particular, music outreach, bridges the sometimes perceived differences that can act as barriers between urban and rural, young and old, and people of differing ethnic and cultural backgrounds."

Robert Walzel, dean of the School of Music, described Zakoura's generosity as extraordinary.

"Jim's support enables students and faculty to have opportunities that would not otherwise be available," Walzel said. "He is a remarkable friend for music and for the university, whose passion for things that create excellence is helping to raise the stature of the School of Music within the greater musical community."

KU graduate student Crystal Alexander received scholarship support from the Zakoura Outreach Fund. Through this program, she, and three others in the outreach saxophone quartet visited schools and performed in towns throughout Kansas. She is as grateful for the financial support as she is for the opportunities to perform in public and hone her skills as a saxophonist.

"I am an educator and to have an opportunity to go out and play at schools and to work with the kids makes me a better teacher as well," Alexander said. "This program has enriched my learning experience at the University of Kansas in terms of opportunities that you don't necessarily get in the classroom."

Zakoura is a partner in Smithyman & Zakoura Chartered, Overland Park, and his principal area of practice is energy law. Zakoura has established two nonprofit foundations, Reach Out Kansas and the Zakoura Family Foundation.

The gifts are managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation 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