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Gift creates geology professorship at KU

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas alumna Kathleen Hall, of Lecompton, has made a leadership gift to establish a geology professorship at the University of Kansas. Gene Rankey, associate professor of geology, will be the inaugural recipient of the Hubert H. and Kathleen M. Hall Professorship in Geology.

Kathleen Hall and her late husband, Hubert “Hub” Hall, earned bachelor’s degrees from KU in 1949 — Kathleen in education and Hub in geology. The couple married that fall and moved to Madison, Wis., where Hub earned a master’s degree and doctorate in geology from the University of Wisconsin.

“I’m happy to see this professorship being established at KU,” she said. “My husband had a lot of close connections with the university. His parents both graduated from KU, as did his two brothers, and their father was director of the KU Natural History Museum and head of zoology. So, we’ve had a very soft place in our hearts for KU.”

After completing graduate school, Hub joined Standard Oil (now ExxonMobil) in Tulsa, Okla. During his 34 years as a petroleum geologist, the couple lived in various countries as he explored for oil and gas. For the last 20 years with Exxon, he led its exploration in Malaysia, the southeastern U.S., the Middle East, North Africa, Ireland and England. When Hub retired from ExxonMobil in 1986, he and Kathleen decided to retire in Kansas. Hub served on the Department of Geology’s advisory board for a number of years. He died in 2010.

Bob Goldstein, KU associate dean of natural sciences and mathematics, expressed appreciation for the gift. “Hub and Kathy have been tremendous friends to the entire university,” he said. “This professorship leaves a legacy to the Department of Geology that will recognize that friendship for decades to come. It will assure that the department will attract and retain the best faculty members in a teaching and research area that is important to all. I think this is a fitting tribute to Hub’s exceptional career and to Kathy and Hub’s years of generosity.”

The Halls’ previous gifts for KU have benefited several areas across the university, including the Natural History Museum, the Spencer Museum of Art and the Department of Geology. Also, in 1999, the couple donated 116 acres of land to KU Endowment to create the Hall Nature Reserve, which is a part of the KU Field Station. This follows in the family’s footsteps, as in the late 1940s, Hub’s father, E. Raymond Hall, led an effort to secure an area where the university could conduct ecological research and teaching. The 590-acre site chosen for this purpose was already under university control; it was a former farm of Dr. Charles Robinson, first governor of Kansas, who donated it to KU in 1911. This land is also part of the KU Field Station, which has grown to encompass 3,400 acres.

The geology professorship will be awarded to a mid-career faculty member or an incoming professor. Recipients will have a research or teaching focus in sedimentary geology or in an area of research complementary to the energy industry.

The gift for the professorship counts toward Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the university’s $1.2 billion comprehensive fundraising campaign. Far Above seeks support to educate future leaders, advance medicine, accelerate discovery and drive economic growth to seize the opportunities of the future.

The campaign is managed by KU Endowment, 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.

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