When Mike and Mary McCormick learned about all of the opportunities that Honors students have at KU, they decided that contributing to the University Honors Program was the ideal way to honor their late son, Aaron.
“After Aaron passed away, we started realizing we should start giving back to the University,” Mike says. “If this gives them a new experience and something they normally wouldn’t get to experience, then our gift is doing its job.”
Mary says that Aaron, who passed away in 1997, was artistic, good with computers and very bright.
“We have a soft spot for students like him, who maybe aren’t number one, but are interested in lots of things,” Mary says. “And, we want to keep Kansas kids in Kansas. We are both Kansas born, so we want to keep good students here.”
The McCormicks say they have not put any restrictions on their contributions to the Honors Program.
“Let them study whatever they want to study, do as much as they want to do,” Mary says. “I don’t want to tell them what to do.”
Mike says that they have seen the cost of college continue to rise and wanted to do something to help.
“We are closer to the end of our life now than the beginning, and this is our chance to give back to somebody to help them,” he says.
The McCormicks, whose daughter Christy Imil lives in Lawrence and works as an environmental scientist for KDHE, both graduated from KU. Mary’s degree is in computer science, and Mike has a degree in political science and history. Mike has worked in purchasing for Westar for 31 years, after starting his career with Dillon’s.
Mary grew up in Hutchison, and she met Mike, originally from Medicine Lodge, after he had returned from the military. He wanted to continue his education at KU, so Mary agreed to go to Lawrence with him and start her education at KU, despite only being an “average” student. (She did very well at KU, and Mike says, “She could do well in any subject.”)
Mike graduated first and they had to move away for his first job, but they returned to Lawrence in 1979, and Mary went back to KU part-time so she could care for their children. She finished her degree in 1986.