About Al & Lila Self

The Self Engineering Leadership Fellows (SELF) Program was established in 2007 as the result of a contribution to the KU Endowment Association from Madison "Al" and Lila Self. The Selfs' intention for the program was to identify and develop students who have a passion for engineering and possess a "fire in the belly" mentality.

In the fall of 2008, 15 first-year students were welcomed into the program. Currently, the SELF Program has four cohorts of undergraduate students, totaling more than 130 Fellows. The Program graduated its first class of Fellows in the spring of 2011 and supports more than 200 alumni as of 2023.

Al & Lila Self

The SELF Program was made possible through a generous donation to the KU Endowment Association by Madison "Al" and Lila Self. The Selfs established the program with the intent that that it makes a difference in the lives of students who will then rise to make a notable difference in the world.

Madison is a 1943 KU chemical engineering graduate, successful businessman and recipient of the School of Engineering's Distinguished Engineering Service Award in 2000. The Selfs, both native Kansans, met at KU.

In 1989, the Selfs established the Madison and Lila Self Grduate Fellowship to support exceptional Ph.D. students in business, economics, engineering, mathematics, and the biological, biomedical, pharmaceutical, bioinformatics, and physical sciences. This program served as a model for the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows Program, which was established in 2007. 

Al Self passed away in January 2013. His obituary can be read to learn more about his personal and professional successes. Lila Self passed away in November 2013, here is her obituary. Their final estate gift of $58 million was announced in December 2014. This brought their total lifetime giving to KU to $106 million, which makes them one of the most generous private donors to date in the history of the university. In recognition of their contributions to the University, a residence hall was named after the Selfs in 2015. This residence hall also houses the Engineering Learning Community.