Joe Monaco
KU Office of Public Affairs

Board of Class Officers gift to honor Bernadette Gray-Little

Mon, 04/29/2019

(Editor's Note: The original version of this news release has been updated to reflect that former Chancellor Gray-Little will not be attending the event.)

LAWRENCE — The Board of Class Officers has announced a class gift that will honor former Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little.

The 2019 class gift will be a reproduction of the official portrait of Gray-Little that hangs in Strong Hall. The reproduction is intended to be an exact replica of the official portrait, which was completed in 2017 during the chancellor’s final year at KU. 

The gift will be unveiled at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 2, in the Burge Union, and the KU community is invited to attend. Special guests include Interim Provost & Executive Vice Chancellor Carl Lejuez and KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling. Light refreshments will be served.

BOCO President Nellie Kassebaum and BOCO Vice President Collin Cox headed the process for this year’s gift. As part of the process, Kassenbaum and Cox gathered input from BOCO leaders and other KU seniors.

“Chancellor Gray-Little was a transformational leader who guided KU to unprecedented success, elevated the university’s national stature and transformed the way KU serves the state and world,” Cox said. “Perhaps most important to BOCO and this year’s seniors, Chancellor Gray-Little cared deeply about students and their experience at KU. She talked often about being the first person in her family to attend college, and she believed deeply in the power of education to change a student’s life. For all these reasons, we felt strongly that our class gift ought to honor her and her commitment to student success at KU.”

While an exact final location for the gift has not yet been determined, it will be somewhere within the Central District as a tribute to Gray-Little’s leadership in redeveloping that part of campus. Completed in summer 2018, the Central District includes the Integrated Science Building, Burge Union, Cora Downs Residence Hall and South Dining Commons, Stouffer Place Apartments, a new parking garage and a central utility plant. 

About Bernadette Gray-Little

Gray-Little was the university’s 17th chancellor and led KU from 2009-2017. In eight years as chancellor, she advanced KU's mission to educate leaders by implementing new admissions standards, launching a new undergraduate curriculum and growing the freshman class for five straight years. She strengthened KU's efforts to build healthy communities by overseeing the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s application for National Cancer Institute designation and expansions of the schools of Pharmacy and Medicine. She empowered KU to make discoveries by recruiting 12 Foundation Distinguished Professors, leading the university to record-high research funding and pursuing resources to help KU researchers excel. Additionally, Gray-Little led a record-setting $1.66 billion fundraising campaign and an unprecedented modernization of KU’s campuses. Under her leadership, KU completed 50 capital improvement projects totaling $700 million and secured funding for the Central District — a once-in-a-generation development project that has changed the face of education and research at KU. For details, visit

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