Honors alumnus caters giving to student needs   

With their first full-time paycheck in hand, most recent graduates deservedly treat themselves. Caleb Bobo had others in mind.

“As soon as I got my first job, I wanted to build the practice of giving back to the university,” Bobo says. He began with a $10 monthly donation to the political science department.  

As a major, he frequented “Pizza and Politics,” a series held at the Dole Institute of Politics. In a year, Bobo calculated, his gifts would total $120 — or, in his words, “a lot of Pizza Shuttle.” 

“I joke that I can’t fund a new building, I can’t endow a chair position or faculty position, but I can pay for pizza, right?” 

Free food, Bobo believes, often leads to much more. Events like “Pizza and Politics” shaped Bobo’s own academic trajectory, while Friday tailgates drew him to the KU Alumni Association, where he worked part-time as a student. 

Bobo also served on KU Endowment’s student board, an experience he says “showed firsthand that, if it wasn’t for donor support, the university wouldn’t look like it does today.” 

As to the importance of lending time and talent to KU, Bobo looks to his parents: Rita Holmes-Bobo, a member of the business school’s Dean’s Advisory Board, and Luke Bobo, who served on KU Alumni Association’s national board of directors. 

“Both of them really demonstrated the importance of giving back and using these opportunities — these seats at the table — to ultimately make a difference.” 

In addition to the political science department, Bobo also contributes to the KU Alumni Association and the Black Alumni Network, as well as the University Honors Program. 

His honors career began in communications professor Dr. Robert C. Rowland’s University Scholars seminar on rhetoric and political communication. “To get to learn from such an amazing faculty member, and alongside such amazing students — it was incredible,” Bobo says. 

He cites as equally impactful his subsequent honors classes with Dr. Mary Klayder and Dr. Kala Mays Stroup, whom he credits as inspiring his master’s degree in public administration.  

“KU invested in me so tangibly, so to give back in order to give other students that same opportunity means a lot to me,” he says. 

Bobo’s donations are automatic and recurring, and he encourages alumni to do the same, starting with a dollar amount that fits their budget, then growing the amount when able. 

“What I’ve tried to do is, every time I’ve taken a step in my career, scale that donation,” says Bobo. “My hope is that small acts of generosity like that add up.” 

And while a monetary gift may ultimately take the form of a hot dog on gameday or a slice of pizza before a panel, it can make an outsized difference — one Bobo fittingly expresses in a food metaphor. 

“My hope is that, by sowing a small seed, it can continue to do great things for other students.”