Couple's estate gives $58 million to University of Kansas; donated $106M over their lifetime


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LAWRENCE, Kansas — The University of Kansas received a $58 million gift from the estate of a couple who are the most generous private donors in the school's history, officials said.

Madison "Al" Self and his wife, Lila, died in 2013, both were 91. Their donation, announced Tuesday, brings their total donations to the school to $106 million and places them among the most generous benefactors to graduate students at a U.S. public university.

"This is a very special day for the university, this is a very special day for students, and this is a very special day for all Kansans," KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little told a gathering of alumni, faculty and students at the Adams Alumni Center.

Of the $58 million gift, $39 million will go to the Self Graduate Fellowship Fund for doctoral students, $15 million will go to the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program and the remaining $4 million will establish a new Self Graduating Senior Fellowship Fund.

The couple's donation helped the school reach its $1.2 billion "Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas" fundraising goal, Gray-Little said. Other donations include a $10.5 million gift from the Hall Family Foundation and $32 million from the estate of Charles E. and Mary Jane Bruckmiller Spahr, the Lawrence Journal-World ( ) reported.

The Selfs, who met on the KU campus in the early 1940s, both were raised on Kansas farms. Al Self attended a one-room grade school.

In 1947, Self acquired the Bee Chemical Co., which produced polymers and polymer coatings for use on plastics. The Illinois-based company had three employees before it expanded operations in the United States, Japan and England. The couple sold the business in 1984.

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