A significant planned estate gift commitment from University of Kansas alumnus John Eyler establishes new scholarships in visual art and art history at KU, and also increases the architecture and music scholarships that he established in 2013.
The gift is divided equally among the four scholarship funds, each of which will provide full scholarships for students in architecture, music, visual art and art history.
Eyler, who lives in Kansas City, Mo., said that he created the scholarships because he wanted to find a “meaningful but simple gesture” that would help students in perpetuity.
“I think people would be surprised at the impact they can have, creating just one scholarship, even a partial scholarship,” he said. “It will continue to grow and keep on giving forever — and you’ll be helping a student enter into your field, a field you’re interested in, or a field that doesn’t have a lot of scholarships.”
Chancellor Douglas A. Girod said the scholarships would give students the chance to give their full attention to learning.
“John’s professional background and diverse interests give him a unique perspective on providing educational opportunities for students in creative fields,” Girod said. “His generosity and desire to create full scholarships in the arts and architecture mean those students can focus on their artistic talents and forge a brighter future for their professional careers.”
Eyler earned two degrees from KU: a bachelor’s degree in environmental design in 1980 and a bachelor’s degree in architecture in 1994.
Most recently, he was a Principal with 360 Architecture based in Kansas City, Mo. HOK acquired 360 Architecture in 2014 and Eyler retired in 2015. He volunteers his time at Wayside Waifs animal shelter and as a Docent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
The John C. Eyler Scholarships in Music and Architecture each cover the full cost of tuition and will be awarded to undergraduate students with academic merit, as well as performance merit in the case of the music scholarship. The scholarships in Visual Art and History of Art will each cover the full cost of tuition for graduate students with academic merit.
Eyler worked closely with the deans of the schools of Music and Architecture and the department chairs of Visual Art and History of Art to find out how his philanthropic goals could best assist their programs’ areas of need.
“All of the scholarships support my personal areas of interest – architecture and music from an early age to art and art history in more recent years,” Eyler said.
“I’ve hired many young people throughout my career, mostly KU graduates, all of whom I helped mentor and develop solid careers in architecture,” he said. “I’d like to make sure students in the future continue to have those opportunities through their connection with KU.
He added that he has spent a considerable amount of time at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art with the curators and some artists, as well as visiting with the deans and chairs, which made him aware of the need for full scholarships.
While he didn’t play at KU, Eyler played many instruments and was part of the symphonic band and orchestra, marching band and jazz band at Parkway Central High School in his hometown of Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis.
“Symphonic and classical music has always been something I really enjoyed,” he said. “I had a high school teacher who was also the symphony conductor and who instilled in me a life-long interest in classical music.
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.