LAWRENCE — A gift commitment of more than $1 million from KU alumna Tracy Ashlock will establish a travel fund for environmental studies students at the University of Kansas.
Ashlock said the environment has always been one of her interests, starting when she participated in grade school activities on Earth Day, the annual, global initiative that supports environmental protection.
“The appeal of environmental studies, for me, has always been taking care of our environment, because we only get one shot at it,” she said.
Ashlock lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon, and is contracted to TRS Group as marketing director, an environmental company that does soil and groundwater remediation of contaminated property. An Olathe native, she transferred to KU her sophomore year after going to a small, out-of-state college her first year, and she knew right away that transferring was the right choice.
“KU was absolutely the right fit for me, both for lessons in life and in academics, except there was no environmental program at the time,” she said.
Ashlock focused instead on science and teaching, earning a bachelor’s degree in health education with a minor in biology in 1983.
“I established this fund because it was something that wasn’t available to me when I was a student, and it mixes my two biggest passions: travel and the environment,” she said.
The Tracy Ashlock Environmental Studies Travel Endowment will provide international travel opportunities to students in the environmental studies program at KU.
David Fowle, director of the program and dean’s professor of geology, said the gift opens up the world to students.
“Our students are highly active and want to make a difference for our planet, often by traveling to participate in activities such as short courses, research experiences, internships and study abroad,” Fowle said. “I can’t thank Tracy Ashlock enough for expanding and diversifying our students’ opportunities and enabling the next generation of globally engaged environmental leaders to call KU their home.”
J. Christopher Brown, former director of the Environmental Studies Program and a professor in the Department of Geography & Atmospheric Science, said the fund will help students access environmental opportunities abroad.
“We are so honored to have this gift from Tracy,” Brown said. “She is passionate about impacting the student experience and helping students to get engaged internationally.”
Ashlock said she knew she wanted to give back to KU when she let her passions direct her giving.
“Figure out what your passions are, regardless of your job,” she said. “Let them guide your philanthropic decisions.”
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.