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School Launches SELF Leadership Program

Monday, January 8, 2007

Future leaders in engineering and computer science will get a head start with a new scholarship and mentoring program at the University of Kansas.

Created through a $2.1 million gift from Madison “Al” and Lila Self, the program will recruit up to 15 freshmen annually to participate. Students who are selected as Madison A. and Lila Self Engineering Leadership Fellows will expand and refine their leadership, managerial, business, interpersonal, entrepreneurial and engineering skills.

The fellows will receive $4,000 financial awards for their freshman and sophomore years and $6,000 financial awards for their junior and senior years at KU. In addition to financial support, the students will be mentored and have access to workshops, seminars and other leadership opportunities that will help cultivate their potential.

The inaugural class of fellows will be selected in time for the fall 2007 semester. The deadline for high school seniors to apply to the program is Jan. 24. Academic ability will be important, but the selection committee will concentrate on a student’s track record of achievement, career goals, personal motivation and leadership potential.

“The goal of the program is to develop KU graduates who have a passion for technology and the skill set to guide the technology-based corporations of tomorrow,” said Stuart Bell, dean of KU’s engineering school. “We’re very excited for the opportunity that the Selfs have granted the School of Engineering by funding this program.”

The Selfs, who live in Hinsdale, Ill., established the program with the intent that it make a difference in the lives of students who will then rise to make a difference in the world.

“By initiating this program, Lila and I hope to inspire students who have a passion for solving the engineering and computer science challenges of the future,” said Al Self. “We want them to become leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs.”

Al Self, who graduated from KU with a chemical engineering degree in 1943, is a successful businessman and entrepreneur. He met Lila Reetz while they were students at KU. Lila Self attended KU with the Class of 1943.

In 1989, the couple established the Madison and Lila Self Graduate Fellowship, a competitive mentoring program for doctoral candidates in the sciences, engineering, business and economics at KU. The program’s mission is to identify, recruit and provide development opportunities for exceptional doctoral students who demonstrate the promise to make significant contributions to their fields of study and society as a whole. The Selfs have contributed more than $30 million for the program since its launch.

Gifts for the Self programs are managed by KU Endowment, the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

Learn more about the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program.

Story by Jen Humphrey, KU Endowment Association



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