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

Retired math chair's $500K gift honors wife with humanities professorship

LAWRENCE -- In honor of his wife's longtime dedication to teaching, a former chair of the University of Kansas Department of Mathematics has given $500,000 for a humanities professorship, Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced today.

The gift from G. Baley Price, distinguished professor emeritus, honors Cora Lee Beers Price, 95, a former professor of English and classics at KU. The gift to the Kansas University Endowment Association established an endowed fund for the Cora Lee Beers Price Professorship in International Cultural Understanding for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. The fund will be matched through a previous gift from the Hall Family Foundation of Kansas City, Mo., to create a fund of $1 million.

"This professorship will honor the dedication to education shown by Professor Cora Lee Price, and it also will help KU address the changing needs of our students," Hemenway said. "We will be able to attract and retain an outstanding professor who can help prepare students to participate in what has become a global society."

The Cora Lee Beers Price Professor will design courses that bring together history, travel, literature, language and other areas of the humanities to help students learn about new and traditional perspectives of cultural understanding.

Baley Price, 99, said the university had a responsibility to help students navigate the enormous level of change the world has undergone since his birth: "The world is becoming one. Education, to be relevant, means you have to understand the cultures of the world. Students need experiences that enable them to examine underlying assumptions about their world and to view it from the perspective of other cultures."

Price said part of his inspiration for the professorship came from a gift pledged to KU Endowment in spring 2004. Belfour and Betty Joe Lorbeer McMillen of Fort Worth, Texas, committed $1 million for a professorship in mathematics honoring Baley and he wanted to establish a one in Cora Lee's name as well.

"I wanted to do something for her," he said. "She is as much entitled to be remembered for her work as I am."

Cora Lee Price expressed both surprise and appreciation and said she felt highly honored. "This gift assures educational opportunities for future KU students to study international cultures," she said.

Cora Lee always knew she wanted to teach, Baley said. She earned her undergraduate degree in 1932 at Beloit College in Wisconsin. She then traveled 2,000 miles away to study at Claremont College in California, where she earned her master's degree in English literature in 1933.

"She grew up with the idea that traveling was normal, even though travel was much different then," he said. "We didn't have the interstate highway system yet, and there were few phones. It meant going away."

In 1940 Cora Lee earned a doctorate in English with a minor in classics from Stanford University. She began teaching English and classics at KU in 1962. In 1974, she was named assistant professor of classics, a position she held until her retirement in 1979. In 2003, she was inducted into the KU Women's Hall of Fame. She and Baley married in 1940 and later made their home on Barker Avenue in Lawrence. They have six children: Cora Lee, Griffith, Lucy, Edwina, Diane and Doris.

Lucy Price said her mother's involvement in education extended from the college classroom to the Lawrence community, and learning was a major part of the fabric of their home life.

"Mother encouraged all of us children to explore the world and the world of ideas, whether through study of the humanities, music, art or travel," Lucy said. "Music was a constant in our home, and no room in our house was without books. A dictionary was kept on a sideboard next to the dining table, as the family frequently found need to refer to it in the course of dinner conversation."

Baley earned his undergraduate degree in 1925 at Mississippi College in Clinton, Miss. He earned both his master's degree and doctorate degree at Harvard, completing his studies in mathematics in 1932.

His career at KU began in 1937, but he served in the U.S. Army Eighth Air Force Operations Research Section during World War II. He pioneered computer science nationally and helped KU obtain the university's first computer in 1956.

Price was instrumental in the development of the "new math," which changed the way the subject was taught in public schools. The first E. B. Stouffer Distinguished Professor of Mathematics, he retired in 1975. He has continued to write during retirement, including two mathematics monographs.

Baley's 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.


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