New KU Endowment trustees elected
The KU Endowment Board of Trustees elected Gene Camarena, Laura M. Pinkston Koenigs, Erica E. LeBlanc, Lisa Murray and David B. Pittaway as new trustees at their annual meeting. Camarena received his bachelor’s in accounting and business administration from KU in 1979 and an MBA from Harvard University in 1987. He is president/CEO of La Raza Pizza, Inc. Koenigs graduated from KU in 1978 with bachelor’s degrees in English and chemistry and received an M.D. in 1982. She recently retired from the Baystate Children’s Hospital where she was director for the pediatric residency program and an adolescent medicine physician. LeBlanc earned a bachelor’s in business administration from KU in 2002 and an MBA from the University of Michigan in 2007. She is executive director, New Ventures at SC Johnson. Murray earned a bachelor’s from Princeton University in 2004 and an MBA from Harvard in 2009. She is chief investment officer for the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. Pittaway received a bachelor’s in American studies, history and political science from KU in 1972 and a J.D. in 1975 and MBA in 1982, both from Harvard University. He is vice chairman, senior managing director and chief compliance officer of Castle Harlan and is also vice chairman and chief compliance officer of Branford Castle.
Support for students impacted by violence
The Interpersonal Violence Fund provides financial assistance to KU students who have been impacted by sexual assault, violence and harassment, stalking and intimate partner/dating violence. Covered expenses include safety-related needs (changing locks, housing relocation, etc.), acute and post assault medical care, mental health treatment and bedding and clothing replacement. The fund met 26 requests in 2021, distributing more than $8,500 to students in need. One recipient said, “Due to the Interpersonal Violence Fund, I was able to maintain my housing and not become homeless. A huge component that kept me from walking away from abuse was financial. This fund helped ease this burden.” To support KU students through the fund, visit www.kuendowment.org/IPV.
Honoring a father’s legacy
The University of Kansas is special to Jeff Lindenbaum, a physician in Billings, Mont. The KU alumnus met his wife, Joan Sorenson, M.D., while they were undergraduates on Mount Oread. His late father, Siegfried Lindenbaum, was a faculty member in the School of Pharmacy for more than two decades. To honor his father, the couple has made a $1 million gift commitment to expand the Siegfried Lindenbaum Memorial Scholarship, which supports graduate students in the KU Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry. Lindenbaum named KU Endowment a beneficiary of an individual retirement account (IRA), which allows the couple to leave a legacy while preserving their own resources during their lifetimes. His father was an orphan and war refugee who never felt like he belonged anywhere. He did feel a personal connection to Kansas, however. Lindenbaum said it’s meaningful the gift might help students who faced adversity, much like his father.
KU alumnus receives medal of honor
Gregs Thomopulos, a 1965 KU engineering graduate and KU Endowment Life Trustee, was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor at a ceremony held in May. The Ellis Island Honors Society recognizes the importance of immigration to America’s prosperity and celebrates the contributions immigrants and their progeny have made to our nation. Since the medal was founded in 1986, the award has honored distinguished and diverse Americans including seven U.S. presidents, several Nobel Laureates and countless leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government. Thomopulos, who came to KU from Nigeria in 1962, was recognized for his support of higher education and individuals with disabilities and his efforts to advance sustainable infrastructure.
Expanding access to Black authors
Established in 1983, the History of Black Writing (HBW) is a research unit at KU committed to recovering and sharing Black literature. Project HBW aims to elevate previously unheard voices and encourage research through enhanced access to collections and cultural materials. HBW founder Maryemma Graham, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor of English, served as director for nearly 40 years before handing over the reins to Ayesha Hardison earlier this year. A 2021 National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) grant of $350,000 provided support for HBW to grow its digital archive. The corpus now has more than 4,000 works of fiction and is the largest digital archive of African American fiction currently in existence. The NEH grant has a matching component to qualify for the total grant amount. To date, the remaining balance of the required match is $50,000. To give, please visit www.kuendowment.org/HBW.
“I lived in Sellards Scholarship Hall my junior and senior years at KU. Fellow residents became dear friends. Together we learned life skills, management skills and self-governance while mutually supporting each other through happy and sad times. I received scholarship funding while living there and still remember writing personal thank you notes to donors. My small, annual donation is a way of giving back and saying thank you to those who supported me.”
Roberta Cavitt, bachelor’s in education 1986, master’s in Latin American studies 1991
Collaboration encourages healthy habits
The KU School of Medicine-Wichita is a presenting sponsor of a new, permanent exhibit at Exploration Place in Wichita. “Health Inside Out” is a 3,500-square-foot, $1.5 million addition that includes fun, interactive, science-based activities inspiring a healthy lifestyle. Kansas has experienced the largest decline in national health rankings of any state in the last 30 years, according to America’s Health Rankings. It was the eighth healthiest state in 1991 but fell to 29th in 2021. The goal of the exhibit is to reverse this trend by promoting healthy habits and helping prepare the future health care workforce. The project was made possible with the generous support of more than 50 donors.