It is well known that KU Endowment was formed in 1891 to accept a gift of real estate — the land where David Booth Kansas Memorial Stadium now stands. Without KU Endowment, the gift would have become part of the state’s general University Fund instead of being solely for the University of Kansas.
Lesser known is the fact that KU Endowment manages agricultural land, mineral interests, buildings and undeveloped property for the benefit of the university. In 1939, KU Endowment entered the agricultural management business overnight when the estate of Elizabeth Watkins provided all the real estate she owned outside Douglas County, approximately 23,000 acres in 20 counties. The market value of that gift today is about $25 million.
The gift came with stipulations that the revenue from the farmland would support KU as long as it remains owned by KU Endowment. If the land is ever sold, the profit goes to a trust that benefits multiple entities. Since that time, gifts from additional donors have increased farmland holdings to approximately 47,000 acres.
About half of the proceeds from real estate and mineral interests are designated for strategic priorities of KU and the remainder follows donor instructions, including 19 scholarship funds. The amount of funding received each year varies greatly depending on market conditions, but it’s an invaluable source of support.
KU Endowment and the Board of Trustees Property Management Committee oversee
- 47,000 acres of farmland in 49 Kansas counties
- 200 acres of land on and near KU’s campuses
- 1,650 mineral interests with about 500 producing oil wells
- 25 hunting leases on owned land
- 3,700 acres of land important for research at the KU Field Station
- 638 acres at the KU Geology Field Camp and Blue Ridge sites near Cañon City, Colo.