Katzman Brooks Family Fund
Why We Give: David and Sharyn Katzman
David Katzman, professor emeritus of American studies, and his wife, Sharyn, along with University Honors Program Advisory Board co-chair Ben Palen, have established the Katzman Brooks Family Fund to provide transformative experiences to Honors students at KU.
David Katzman, who also served as director of the Honors Program for seven years, was in the process of endowing a fund in honor of his parents when Palen, who is Katzman's former student and Honors thesis advisee, approached him about supporting the Honors Program.
As former Honors Program director, University Scholars seminar instructor and Honors course professor, Katzman knows from personal experience the impact that the Honors Program has on KU students.
"The Honors Program provides space for students to grow, to challenge themselves and to take advantage of opportunities," Katzman says. "I am committed to public education to provide opportunities. Probably the single most important ingredient in excellence of education comes from a student's peer group, and that is why we offer resources and want the students to take the initiative."
The Katzmans already give to their alma mater, Queens College, to recognize outstanding history students. They wanted to give to KU as well, the place they have been for more than 40 years.
"I don't think we have enough discretionary giving at the University. My own view on giving is that you don't tie the hands of the future," Katzman says.
The fund is named for David's and Sharyn's parents, Henry M. and Berdie Miller Katzman, and Sidney R. and Ruth Herskowitz Brooks.
"It was my good fortune to have David as a mentor during much of my time at KU," says Ben Palen. "And I am proud to say that, nearly 40 years later, I count him as a very good friend. I was humbled when he and Sharyn responded favorably to my suggestion last fall about establishing a fund to help Honors Program students. This is a recognition of the importance of the Honors Program at KU, and this generous effort by David and Sharyn will make a difference to students for many years to come."
Palen encourages others who feel strongly about Katzman's accomplishments with the Honors Program and KU to contribute what they can to the fund.
"Ben is a great citizen and he does nothing half-heartedly," Katzman says. "He puts his energy where he thinks he can make a difference."
Katzman was director of the Honors Program when he orchestrated its move to Nunemaker Center in the fall of 1981. He also merged the freshman tutorial system with the advising system to help mentor students more effectively.
One of his favorite stories about the Honors Program came about because of his efforts to connect campus visitors with Honors students and vice versa. A Nobel Prize-winning chemist came and spoke to first-year Honors students. He told the students that the best way to produce more Nobel prizes was to attract more men to the sciences. The students pounced on his assertion, saying that attracting only half the population to the discipline wouldn't help near as much as attracting both men and women. The speaker was taken aback by the openness, energy and curiosity of the Honors students, Katzman says.
He sees those same traits in today's Honors students as well.