LAWRENCE — A gift commitment of $690,000 from University of Kansas alumnus Don Sloan will establish a scholarship fund for art history students at KU.
Sloan, who grew up in Junction City, Kansas, is now semi-retired and living in Lawrence, said he was motivated to give the gift because he knows firsthand how valuable scholarships can be.
“It’s very rewarding to help the up and coming generations,” he said. “I had a Summerfield Scholarship and got out of college with no debt. I always appreciated how KU had treated me.”
The chance to assist the history of art department at KU in attracting and retaining students was also appealing, Sloan said.
“KU has an excellent art history department, and, especially at the graduate level, students expect to be supported,” he said. “I wanted to help what was already an exceptional department.”
David Cateforis, chair of the history of art department, says the scholarship will help new generations of students pursue their passion in art history.
“We are profoundly grateful to Don Sloan for this commitment,” Cateforis said. “It will greatly enhance our future ability to recruit and retain talented students who will go on to meaningful and rewarding careers like those Don enjoyed. His generosity in giving back to his alma mater is deeply inspiring to all of us in the department.”
Sloan received bachelor’s degrees in English and political science from KU in 1970 and entered the U.S. Army after graduation. He was stationed at Fort Huachuca, Arizona, in 1971, where he was a faculty member at the U.S. Army Intelligence School. After leaving the Army, he entered Yale Law School and earned his juris doctor in 1976. He practiced law for 20 years in California before returning to KU to earn degrees in art history: a master’s degree in 1999 and a doctorate in 2004.
Sloan’s interest in art history started when he was an undergraduate. His freshman and sophomore advisor was Marilyn Stokstad, renowned distinguished professor emerita of art history, art historian and former art museum director of what is now the Spencer Museum of Art. Stokstad, a notable philanthropist in her own right, died in 2016.
“I would go to enroll, and she would say, ‘Oh, take this art history class,’ so I had a fair amount of art history as an undergrad,” Sloan said. “I visited art museums when I traveled, and I always had a passion for it. When I decided to change careers, I called Marilyn again, and she encouraged me to pursue the field.”
After Sloan received his doctorate, he became an art history professor and department chair at the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, where he taught for 11 years. In his retirement, he is teaching an art history course at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri.
Sloan said he owed much of his decision to support art history philanthropically to Stokstad and to the late Edmund Eglinski, also a KU art history professor whose classes Sloan took as an undergraduate. Their excellence as teachers motivated Sloan to make this gift as a way to maintain the high quality of the department.
The Donald Sloan Scholarship will be available to graduate and undergraduate students.
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.