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University Relations

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Jan. 19, 2005
Contact: John Scarffe, KU Endowment Association, (785) 832-7336.

Businessman's gifts for KU top $20 million

LAWRENCE -- A businessman whose $10 million gift for economics and business put the University of Kansas economics program on a path to international recognition has doubled his commitment, KU Chancellor Robert Hemenway announced today.

Charley W. Oswald of Custer, S.D., pledged an additional $10 million to the Kansas University Endowment Association for the Department of Economics. A combination of cash and a gift through his estate, the commitment will support a distinguished professorship, enhance existing funds previously established by Oswald, and provide financial support for economics students, research and faculty travel.

" Few alumni of the University of Kansas have the capacity and the generosity to transform an entire department through their support, but Charley Oswald is one of them," Hemenway said. "His belief in the value of his KU education and his vision for future KU economics students have made KU a recognized leader in economics education. This is an outstanding gift commitment."

Joseph Sicilian, chair of the department, said the magnitude of Oswald's support was difficult to measure.

" It's hard to overstate the importance Charley Oswald has had on the Department of Economics," Sicilian said. "Among many initiatives, his previous support established two distinguished professorships that are held by two highly acclaimed and famous economics scholars, who in turn have attracted excellent new junior faculty members and graduate students. The level of our faculty and students has been elevated. Now his latest commitment will provide support for the efforts we have made and the results we have already achieved, allowing us to continue in a strong upward trajectory."

Oswald's previous gift provided $6 million for the Department of Economics, $1 million for the School of Business and $3 million in unrestricted support. The gift established funds for economics lectures at KU and created programs for newer faculty members, who are known as Oswald scholars. His gifts will allow the Department of Economics to host its first major economics conference in fall 2005. In recognition of his support, the undergraduate program in economics was named for Oswald in 2002.

The professorships created through Oswald's first gift are in macroeconomics and microeconomics. Those professorships are held by William Barnett and Bernard Cornet, respectively. The new professorship will be in the area of econometrics, the use of mathematical methods and statistical techniques to analyze economic phenomena. Combined, the fields represent the three major branches of economic study, Sicilian said.

Oswald, economics '51, earned a master's degree in business administration in 1953 from Harvard University. Currently the chairman of Rotherwood Investments LLC in Minnesota, he was the chairman and CEO of National Computer Systems (now NCS Pearson) from 1970 until 1994. The company is the largest commercial processor of student assessment tests and the largest provider of data tracking software for U.S. elementary and secondary schools. Oswald continued to work for NCS as a company director until 1998.

A native of rural Hutchinson, Oswald is a trustee emeritus of KU Endowment and an emeritus member of the School of Business board of advisors. In addition to his support for economics, he has established unrestricted funds for the School of Business and the university.

His gift counted toward the goal of KU First: Invest in Excellence, the largest fund-raising campaign in KU history. KU Endowment conducted 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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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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