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April 18, 2005
Contact: Diane Silver, KU Endowment Association, (785) 832-7363.

KU alumnus gives $2 million for political science professorship


LAWRENCE -- Top British political commentator and market research pioneer Sir Robert Worcester has committed a gift of $2 million to establish a distinguished professorship in the University of Kansas Department of Political Science.

Sir Robert's gift to the Kansas University Endowment Association will endow the Sir Robert Worcester Distinguished Professorship in Public Opinion and Survey Research. A portion of the interest earned on the professorship fund will fund a salary stipend and may provide support for professional travel, graduate student researchers, public lectures, equipment or other materials for the faculty member awarded the professorship. Worcester committed the gift to KU Endowment during KU First: Invest in Excellence, but the details of the professorship were only recently finalized.

" The changing global scene and increasing public involvement in issues both international and local requires in-depth knowledge of public opinion and the means to harness survey research to inform effective public policy," KU Chancellor Robert E. Hemenway said. "The University of Kansas is uniquely suited to prepare its students for those challenges, and the Worcester distinguished professor will make a significant contribution to that mission."

Kim Wilcox, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, said the College was the ideal division at KU for such a professorship.

" We anticipate that this professorship will serve as a multidisciplinary catalyst for doctoral education in the area of public opinion polling and survey research," Wilcox said. "This is an outstanding gift and a vote of confidence in the research and education fostered by the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Department of Political Science."

Sir Robert, who graduated from Southwest High School in Kansas City, Mo., was on campus April 15 and 16 for the Class of 1955's Golden Anniversary weekend. Although he earned a bachelor's degree in business at KU, he said his interests also included journalism classes and political science. In political science, he encountered Francis Heller, Roy A. Roberts professor of law and political science emeritus.

"Until I was inspired by Heller and encouraged by my contemporaries in journalism, I thought I'd be just a businessman," Sir Robert said. "I realized there's more to life than making money."

He moved to Britain in 1969. There he founded Market & Opinion Research International (MORI), best known for public opinion polling, though it specializes in sociocultural and demographic trends. Based in London, MORI is one of the 20 largest market research firms in the world and is the largest independently held market research company in Great Britain. It has associated companies in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

" I believe the people have a right to their voice and a right to be heard," he said. "People in authority need to know what people think, whether they are running a hospital, a government or a university."

Sir Robert, who has dual citizenship in the United States and Britain, was recently named a Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II. He and his wife, Lady (Margaret) Worcester, live at Allington Castle, Kent, on the Medway River. A 13th-century stone-walled castle built during the Tudor period, it was the home of the Wyatt family, advisers and courtiers to Henry VII and Henry VIII.

Sir Robert is a governor of the London School of Economics and Political Science, a governor of the University of Kent, and an honorary professor in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Kent and in the Department of Politics and International Studies at Warwick University. He has previously been a visiting professor of government at the London School of Economics, visiting professor in the Graduate Centre for Journalism at City University, London, and visiting professor in the Department of Marketing at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow.

He holds four honorary degrees: doctor of science (University of Buckingham), doctor of letters (University of Bradford), doctor of the university (Middlesex University) and doctor of laws (University of Greenwich).
He is chairman of the Pilgrims Society, a governor of the English-Speaking Union and a trustee of the Magna Carta Trust. He is a freeman of the City of London, and he was a member of the Fulbright Commission.

A past president of the World Association for Public Opinion Research, Sir Robert is a frequent contributor to newspapers such as the Financial Times and Observer, magazines, and radio and television programs, including election night coverage of American and British elections. He is author, co-author, co-editor or editor of more than a dozen books and many articles in newspapers, magazines and professional journals. His most recent book, with Roger Mortimore, is "Explaining Labour's Second Landslide" (Politico's 2001).

KU First: Invest in Excellence was the largest fund-raising campaign in KU history and raised more than $653 million for the university. KU Endowment is an independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fund-raising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment is the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university and one of the largest.

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The University of Kansas is a major comprehensive research and teaching university. University Relations is the central public relations office for KU's Lawrence campus.

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