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Scholarship established for KU students who study abroad

November 10, 2009

In honor of their late son’s passion for international traveling, a Prairie Village, Kan., couple has established a new scholarship for University of Kansas students who study abroad.

Their son, Gus Rau Meyer, Jr., earned two degrees at KU in 2005 — a bachelor’s in business administration and marketing, and a bachelor’s in economics. He died Feb. 13, 2009. He was a fourth-generation Jayhawk.

Gus Rau Meyer, Jr.

His parents, Gus Rau Meyer, Sr., and Cheryl Meyer, established the $32,000 endowed fund through a combination of their own gifts, as well as memorial contributions sent to KU Endowment by friends and family.

“We decided to honor our son with a scholarship because he loved education, he loved learning,” Gus Rau Meyer, Sr. said. “The study abroad scholarship covered everything — including his love for traveling. It fit him.”

Their son was a multi-faceted person, said Cheryl Meyer. For instance, one of his goals was to become a novelist. They’d meet over coffee and talk about what he had written. “It was a dream of his to be the next John Grisham,” she said.

He was an avid reader who stayed up late at night reading. He appreciated music and played the guitar and banjo.

Gus loved to learn and was an excellent student. When he entered KU as a freshman, he had completed 45 advanced placement college hours before graduating from high school. After college, he enrolled in classes at a community college to continue learning.

At KU, Gus was a fourth-generation member of Sigma Phi Epsilon, where he lived during his first three years of college. The friendships he formed at the fraternity house were very important to him. After college, Gus’s final project at Rau Construction was serving as the project manager for the major addition and renovation of the fraternity house.

An enthusiastic traveler, Gus spent a year in Venezuela in a high school exchange program. In college, he spent a semester on a KU Study Abroad trip to Australia. As a Boy Scout, he attended the World Jamboree in Santiago, Chile.

Cheryl Meyer said Gus may have inherited his wanderlust instincts from a great-grandmother, who kept a world map on her wall with colored pins marking places she had visited. When Gus grew older, he kept track of places he had visited on a world map of his own.

Proud of his Native American ancestry, Gus studied their traditions and beliefs. He was an outdoorsman, enjoying mountain backpacking, being in nature, appreciating the beauty of the land. “I think it all ties together,” his father said, “He just wanted to protect the environment.”

At Rau Construction, where Gus was a project manager, he promoted environmental causes. He was studying to become LEED certified; he started a company recycling plan. “He kept us on the straight and narrow,” his father said.

Cheryl Meyer recalled Gus taking glass to the recycler when it could no longer be picked up at the curbside. “He was proactive,” she said. “Gus had an interest in taking care of the earth, making it a better place.”

He also had an interest in helping people who were less fortunate. He named the American Red Cross of Greater Kansas City as the beneficiary of his life insurance policy, valued at more than $50,000.

Sue Lorenz, director of KU’s Office of Study Abroad, expressed appreciation for the scholarship. “We’re grateful to the family of Gus Rau Meyer, Jr. for choosing to honor their son with the establishment of this scholarship, which will help students to pursue the type of international experiences that Gus, Jr. valued,” Lorenz said.

The gift will be managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management foundation for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.
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November 10, 2009
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