LAWRENCE — University of Kansas alumnus William “Brad” Bradley Jr., of Overland Park, has made a $2 million gift commitment that will endow a scholarship in the School of Law and a research excellence fund for the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Kansas.
The contributions, established through KU Endowment, were borne out of Bradley’s philanthropic and educational interests.
“It would have been very difficult for me to have done as well as I have without a college education and a legal education,” he said. “And when you’ve done well, you’d like to make a contribution that would help others do well.”
Bradley grew up on his family’s farm outside of Lawrence, one of five sons. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English at KU in 1977 and his law degree at KU Law in 1980. He began his career at a law firm in Hutchinson, moved to Wichita, and eventually became the third largest individual shareholder in NIC, Inc., an Olathe-based information service provider for federal and state governments. Now retired, he is president-elect of the KU Law Board of Governors.
The gift provides $1 million to establish the Bradley Family Scholarship for students in the School of Law with preference for those who have financial need and have contributed toward their own undergraduate educations.
Law Dean Stephen Mazza expressed his gratitude for the gift, which will expand opportunities for students.
“Brad’s commitment to help ensure that all qualified students can attend law school, regardless of family income or resources, is right in line with KU Law’s purpose: To educate the best and brightest and to limit the amount of debt a student must incur to obtain a degree,” Mazza said. “It’s admirable that Brad, who used his KU Law degree to achieve great success in the business world, is supporting future generations of law students so generously.”
Another $1 million of the gift will endow the Bradley Family Research Excellence Fund, which will provide awards through competitive application to faculty in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences whose research programs involve undergraduates. The awards give preference to interdisciplinary research with a practical application of the arts and sciences.
Carl Lejuez, dean of the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences, told Bradley he wanted to get more students involved in research, and Bradley listened.
“Research is the engine that drives our mission at KU. One of our top priorities in the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences is to enhance support we can offer our faculty to advance their research and expand opportunities for undergraduate research,” Lejuez said. “I am grateful to the Bradley family for their generosity and commitment to research excellence at KU and in the liberal arts and sciences.”
Bradley has a history of philanthropy at KU. He also has set up two internship funds: the Bradley Family Legal Internships fund and the Bradley Family Undergraduate Internships fund. Those funds, one for law students and one for liberal arts students, allow students to take internships with organizations that may not pay, or pay much, but provide valuable knowledge and skills.
“I wanted to help round out students’ academic careers with an experience that was practical,” Bradley said.
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.