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Why I Give: John Piper

John Piper ’65 and his daughter, Lizza

When he came to KU from a small town, John Piper seized the many opportunities that were presented to him. And now, by contributing to the University Honors Program, he hopes to enable current and future KU Honors students to do the same.

“I wanted to be able to give other people the same kinds of opportunities I had,” John says. “The Honors Program really did launch me in the right direction that I wanted to go, and I think it still does for students.”

John’s parents were both KU alumni, and they brought John and his brothers to the KU campus often from their home in Parsons, for music camp and basketball games. But even his familiarity with the campus couldn’t prepare him for what all laid ahead in college.

“KU opens up new horizons and opportunities you couldn’t even dream of, as a kid growing up in Parsons, Kansas. At KU, I found there were people like me who wanted to study and learn – the Honors Program was a community within the larger student body,” he says.

John credits his adviser, James Seaver, and his French professor, Barbara Craig, with propelling him toward both his goals and new experiences.

“Both the Honors Program and study abroad were instrumental in my life,” he says.

After taking French his freshman year, John went to Paris that summer with the Summer Language Institute and experienced both freedom and responsibility like he had not known. He ended up majoring in sociology, but learning French led to him studying at the University of Dakar in West Africa after graduation, with a Rotary Fellowship. He traveled all over the world with the fellowship, then finished law school at Northwestern University.

John clerked for judges and practiced law, but he decided he wanted to do something different. He had been intrigued by his sociology of religion course ever since he was at KU, so he enrolled at Princeton Theological Seminary and became a Presbyterian minister, which he retired from in Denver.

John has passed along his family’s affinity for KU. His daughter, Lizza, graduated from KU in 2008, so he had a reason to spend more time on the campus.

And now, he has furthered his connection to KU, thanks to his generosity with the Honors Program.

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KU Today
Course offerings are “among the most comprehensive in the nation,” according to “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs”
98% of University Honors Program graduates are employed or accepted to graduate school within six months of graduation
40% of students in the University Honors Program conduct research before graduation
9 to 1: Average ratio of KU honors students to faculty advisors
1 of only 7 programs nationwide to receive a top rating from “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs” in 2014
60% of University Honors Program students study abroad
KU honors students select their advisors from top-ranked KU faculty