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Gift from KU alumnus establishes military history professorship

April 4, 2019

A KU alumnus with an interest in history and experience in the Army Reserve has established a professorship in military history at the University of Kansas.

David B. Pittaway, of Naples, Fla., created the professorship through a $500,000 gift.

“Military history, including the study of battles and war that have greatly influenced civilization, tends to be less emphasized by history departments,” Pittaway said.

David B. Pittaway

“By establishing this professorship, KU can continue to be an educational leader in this area for generations to come.”

Pittaway, a Kansas City, Kansas, native, received a bachelor’s degree in history from KU in 1972. He also earned both a law degree and an MBA from Harvard University. He served for 20 years in the United States Army Reserve and retired as a major. His fascination with history combined with his Reserve experience naturally led to the motivation to create a professorship in military history.

The professorship gives an educator the opportunity to teach and research military history in any period and any region in the world with a focus on operational aspects of the military and strategic decision-making that affect military operations.

Adrian Lewis, professor of history at KU and a retired soldier in the U.S. Army, is the first recipient of the professorship, which he says is significant because it ensures that KU will maintain a strong military history program.

“KU’s program plays an important role in educating future and current military leaders,” Lewis said. “KU graduate and doctoral alumni teach at military academies and graduate-level military colleges across the country, including here in Kansas at the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth.”

Clarence Lang, interim dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at KU, expressed gratitude to Pittaway for his gift and the opportunities it provides to students.

“I am grateful for David Pittaway’s generosity to KU and programs in the liberal arts and sciences,” Lang said. “KU has a rich legacy of military history research, and this gift is critical in enhancing and solidifying that reputation.”

Pittaway is vice chairman, senior managing director and chief compliance officer of the private equity investment firm Castle Harlan in New York, N.Y. He has been with the firm since its founding in 1987, and now works out of New York while living in Florida with his wife, Jeannine DuFresne Pittaway.

He is responsible for the firm’s current ownership investments in Gold Star Foods, a Los Angeles-based food distributor to K-12 schools; Caribbean Restaurants Inc., the Puerto Rico Burger King franchise operator; and Shelf Drilling Inc., a Dubai-based oil and gas drilling rig operator. He also is a director of The Cheesecake Factory, and he owns the 5 Guys Burgers and Fries franchise in Michigan, with 30 stores.

In 2012, Pittaway made a gift that established the David B. Pittaway Director of Debate professorship, currently held by Scott Harris. Under Harris, KU Debate won the 2018 National Debate Tournament Championship.

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.

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April 4, 2019
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