10/14/2004

Contact: John Scarffe, KU Endowment Association, (785) 832-7336

Lawrence couple pledges largest estate gift for Kansas Public Radio

LAWRENCE -- Radio listening just isn't the same for Philip Gill and Elizabeth L. Harrison when they travel away from Lawrence. Whether they are in Indiana, Hawaii or Florida, they say, no other station draws their attention like Kansas Public Radio, based at the University of Kansas.

The Lawrence couple wants to make sure the radio station that has been a staple in their lives since the 1960s has financial support for the future. Through their estate plans, the Harrisons recently committed a major gift to the Kansas University Endowment Association that will someday provide unrestricted support for KPR. The couple requested that the amount of the gift not be disclosed at this time.

"As we've spent time in other places, KPR is one of the things we miss about Lawrence," Philip Gill Harrison said. "Other public radio stations aren't the same."

He noted that, besides national programs such as "Morning Edition" and "All Things Considered," he and Elizabeth are drawn to the station's classical music programming, especially the weekday selections by host Rachel Hunter.

Janet Campbell, general manager of the station, said the gift is the largest known planned gift for KPR.

"We are thrilled that the Harrisons feel that KPR is important enough in their lives to include the station in their estate plans," she said. "We know that our future depends on increasing private donations. We are grateful to the Harrisons for leading the way."

Harrison, a 1965 graduate in communication studies and political science, said: "The University of Kansas has a unique opportunity through KPR to broadcast its presence to serve not just students but the citizens of the state, through music, news and other programming. KPR has a unique flavor that is representative of the university. It reflects the personality of the school. It's the beacon in the window."

He gained an early interest in radio by working as a DJ, advertising representative and reporter for KUOK, the student-run radio station that preceded the current student station, KJHK.

He remembers reporting on a March 8, 1965, racial discrimination sit-in outside the office of Chancellor W. Clarke Wescoe. The daylong sit-in involved up to 400 protesters and made national headlines when 110 of the protesters were arrested for refusing to leave Strong Hall.

"Administrators had no idea what to do with the growing fermentation of complaints about civil rights," he said. "That was a lesson I took with me when I went on to be an assistant dean at Indiana University."

Harrison earned a master's in foreign policy from Indiana University in 1967. His academic career has included teaching and administrative roles at universities in Indiana and South Dakota. He has also worked as a broker for his family's Lawrence real estate firm, the Gill Agency. In 1967, he and his father purchased property in Kauai, Hawaii, which Harrison later developed into a shopping center, Kinipopo Village.

Elizabeth Harrison graduated from Indiana University-Bloomington with a degree in music education in 1969. She has taught music in Kansas and is a former band director for the McClouth school district.

The Harrisons' gift counts toward the goal of KU First: Invest in Excellence, the largest fund-raising campaign in KU history. KU Endowment is conducting KU First on behalf of KU through 2004 to raise in excess of $600 million for scholarships, fellowships, professorships, capital projects and program support. KU Endowment serves as the independent, nonprofit fund-raising and fund-management organization for KU.

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