Humbled and honored to hear your KU story 

Fall 2018 Edition

Marlys Shulda

Marlys Shulda

When I started as the development director for the School of Journalism in July, I had no idea how quickly I would fall in love with the job. I’ve always had an almost irrational, passionate love for the University of Kansas, which was forged at the knee of the man who raised me, my Grandpa Stone. 

Grandpa grew up during the Depression as the only son in a poor family in Parkerville, Kansas. After serving in the Marine Corps and losing an arm during World War II during the Battle of Okinawa, he saw opportunity in the GI Bill. He always said he joined the Marine Corps because if he had to serve, “I wanted to serve with the best!” He felt the same way about his decision to attend KU. 

He earned a bachelor's degree in business in 1950, and the foundation was set for him and my grandmother to raise five girls in a healthy, secure, middle-class home. It was more than a foundation; the University of Kansas was part of the fabric of his life.

It was no surprise to anyone when I enrolled at KU in Fall 1987. I was a Class 1A high school all-league basketball junkie, and when Danny and the Miracles shocked the college basketball world, the celebration that occurred on campus felt like being baptized in a sea of crimson and blue. I was hooked for life. 

KU provided opportunities for me in the same way it had my grandfather. My degree in sociology and crime and delinquency led me to a fulfilling first career as a juvenile probation officer, and ultimately, back to KU as a development director. I also met my husband, Brian (c'91), here and my lifelong best friend as well. Like it had for Grandpa Stone, KU became a part of my story.

In the early 2000s, my grandpa handed me a tattered, three-ring binder. I had been pleading with him to tell me his story. I was desperate to hear his tales from the war, as he had been silent on the subject most of his life. Within this notebook were handwritten pages of English composition assignments he had completed while a student at KU. More than a few were about his time in the Marine Corps. 

You see, KU didn’t just provide the educational foundation of a career for my grandpa. It gave him an outlet, an opportunity to tell a story and to work through some of the experiences he had been through. I find myself wondering how many other veterans used their time at KU to process and heal through the written word. 

We all have a story, and the best part of being the development director for the J-School is the opportunity to hear the stories of other KU alumni. Within those stories I have the unique and humble privilege of hearing what matters to our alumni and then helping guide their precious gifts to support those things that tug at their hearts. This is where philanthropic giving is the most beautiful. 

There are myriad ways to support the School of Journalism and Mass Communications:  Endowing a scholarship for a small-town Kansas student interested in broadcast media, funding a professorship for an expert in the field or gifting outright support so the dean can fill in gaps during budget cuts.

There is a recurring theme I hear each time I meet a J-School alumnus: the lessons they learned at KU and the ultimate foundation of all things related to journalism and mass communications are all based upon telling a story. 

KU Endowment provides roughly 80 percent of funding for the University of Kansas. The stories of our graduates are the beating heart of the philanthropy behind that support. I look forward to hearing those stories and to creating more with you.  Rock Chalk!

— Marlys Shulda is development director for the School of Journalism through KU Endowment

For information on outright, deferred and life income gifts as well as scholarship support opportunities, please contact Marlys Shulda at or 785-832-7352. You also may give online.