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New English scholarship established at KU

March 2, 2012

A new University of Kansas scholarship honors the late Jamie Crockett Otis, a KU alumna who earned a bachelor’s degree in English in 1971.

Her husband, David Otis, her brother, Bill Crockett and his family, and her mother-in-law, Pat Otis, established the scholarship with a $40,000 gift to KU Endowment. David and their daughter, Kelsey Holt, designed the scholarship to reflect Jamie’s interests in literature, social justice and KU.

Jamie Crockett Otis

The scholarship is for graduate students majoring in English who have an interest in social justice.

Jamie grew up in Shawnee Mission and attended Colorado Women’s College in Denver before transferring to KU her junior year. David Otis, an alumnus of Colorado State University, recently retired from Iowa State University, where he was a faculty member in the Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management.

David described his wife as an incredible reader with a passion for literature. “She always had several stacks of books around,” he said. “Probably her favorite job ever was when she worked in a little corner bookstore. It was hard for her to bring home a paycheck because she bought so many books.”

Jamie’s interest in social justice was exemplified by her support of a variety of nonprofit organizations that provide access to health care for disadvantaged populations or contribute to public discourse about solutions to racial and economic inequalities in society. Otis said Jamie was a private person. “She was not a rabble-rouser,” he said. “Many people might have been surprised about how strongly she felt about these social issues.”

On a lighter side, he said, she loved KU, especially men’s basketball, having been a fan since the 1960s. “We were casting around for a way to honor Jamie that would capture all of these things that meant so much to her,” Otis said. “We feel good about this scholarship. It’s a nice integration of a lot of things that Jamie felt strongly about.”

Marta Caminero-Santangelo, chair of KU’s Department of English, was delighted with the new scholarship. “We have a strong cohort of faculty and graduate students interested in addressing how language and literature contribute to questions of social justice and social action,” she said. “The new Jamie Crockett Otis Scholarship will allow us to feature this as a strong and growing interest in our department and will help us to attract strong graduate students with that particular interest to KU.”

The gift counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, a comprehensive fundraising campaign scheduled for a public kickoff April 28.

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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March 2, 2012
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