LAWRENCE — Kansas City area civic leaders Tom and Judy Bowser have made a $4 million gift commitment to the University of Kansas.
The Bowsers, of Olathe, made their gift commitment through KU Endowment to benefit in equal portions The University of Kansas Cancer Center, Kansas Athletics, the School of Music, and the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. The gift will be part of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, a comprehensive campaign scheduled to have a public kickoff in April 2012.
KU Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little expressed her appreciation. “It’s touching that Tom and Judy met at KU, and that as alumni, they have continued their tradition of being loyal Jayhawks. Tom and Judy have provided years of outstanding service to KU, and their dedication continues with this generous gift that will benefit countless students and patients.”
Tom Bowser said he and Judy felt fortunate to be able to repay the KU programs that so positively influenced their lives. A 1968 graduate of KU’s School of Journalism, Bowser retired in 2010 as president and CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City and as chairman of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association in Chicago. While a KU student, he was a captain of KU’s first Big 8 championship swimming team and a member of KU’s All-American 4x100 relay team.
“Our gift to the athletic department will provide scholarships for men’s Olympic sports and will include the name of my coach, Dick Reamon, who won the first eight of KU’s 10 straight conference championships in swimming,” said Tom. The gift to the School of Journalism will create a scholarship; it also will establish a lecture series honoring Bowser’s longtime friend, Ken Hickerson, a 1967 KU School of Journalism graduate who later consulted for him at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas City.
Judy Bowser earned a bachelor’s degree in music education from KU in 1969. She said she and her husband felt it was important to provide lasting gifts for KU. “Music education in public schools needs private support now more than ever,” said Judy.
As a music educator, Judy was a choir director and classroom music teacher in both the
public schools and church settings. She is a three-year cancer survivor after her care at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. Their gift for cancer will support patient care at The University of Kansas Hospital and a research fellowship in the School of Medicine.
The couple have long been engaged in Kansas City civic organizations and initiatives. Tom has served as chair of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce; chair of the Kansas City Area Development Council; member of the Civic Council of Greater Kansas City; and as a board member of MRIGlobal. He also is a member of KU Endowment’s Board of Trustees, the KU Advancement Board and the Advisory Board for KU’s Edwards Campus.
The couple have two children and four grandchildren. Their son, Chris Bowser, M.D., and his wife, Lisa, live in Prairie Village. Their daughter, Beth Scruggs, R.N., and her husband, Todd, live in Tulsa, Okla.
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.