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Gift turns professorship into Chair of Ophthalmology at KU

August 8, 2016
KU alumnus Luther Fry and his wife, Ardis, of Garden City, Kansas, have made a combined outright and planned gift commitment of $1 million, which will support an Endowed Chair in Ophthalmology at the University of Kansas.
Dr. Luther Fry and Ardis Fry

The Frys in 2001 established the Luther L. and Ardis Fry Professorship in Ophthalmology with a gift commitment of $1 million through KU Endowment. The couple recently pledged an additional $1 million to elevate the endowed professorship to an endowed Chair in Ophthalmology.

Luther Fry grew up in the southwest Kansas town of Montezuma, and Ardis Fry grew up on a farm between Lindsborg and McPherson, Kan. Luther received a bachelor’s degree from KU in mathematics in 1963 and a medical degree from KU School of Medicine in 1967. Ardis graduated with a degree in nursing from Bethany College in Lindsborg in 1965.

After medical school, Luther completed his residency in ophthalmology at Kresge Eye Institute in Detroit. The couple settled in Garden City as a way to return to their western Kansas roots. Today, Fry Eye Associates includes a part-time optometrist and three full-time ophthalmologists, including the Frys’ son Eric, who graduated from the KU School of Medicine in 2003 and completed his Ophthalmology residency in 2007.

Luther Fry is internationally recognized for his development of the technique for small-incision surgery in cataract treatment. His practice specializes in ocular pathology and cataract surgery.

The couple has been supportive of KU Med and the Ophthalmology Department as a way to share their success and good fortune.

“The training I got at KU and the Department of Ophthalmology allowed me to do very well in my own practice, and we want to give a little of that back,” Luther Fry said.

He said that the initial goal with the endowed professorship was to help attract top-rate faculty, and the department met that goal with the hiring of Dr. John Sutphin for the professorship. Sutphin, now the current Ophthalmology department chair, will take on the endowed chair position.

“Elevating the professorship to an endowed chair will hopefully encourage Dr. Sutphin to stay, and when he does retire it will be helpful in recruiting someone as good as he is for the next chair,” Fry said. And excellent faculty help recruit top-notch students as well, he said.

Robert D. Simari, MD, executive dean of the KU School of Medicine, thanked the Frys for their gift, which bolsters the success of the university and its graduates.

“The Frys have generously supported our Department of Ophthalmology for 15 years and helped us recruit and retain first-class personnel,” Simari said. “Thanks to their continuing generosity, we now have the same opportunities with the ophthalmology chair.”

Sutphin expressed his gratitude for the continued support the Frys have provided for the department and the future of ophthalmology.

“It is humbling to hold a professorship named for such a famous couple in eye surgery,” he said. “Now, Luther and Ardis are again expanding their support of our department to build the leadership and secure the future of ophthalmology at KU. We are so very grateful.”

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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August 8, 2016
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