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Celebrated art historian Dr. Marilyn Stokstad establishes endowed directorship at Spencer Museum of Art
Saralyn Reece Hardy (L) & Marilyn Stokstad (R).
LAWRENCE, KS.- Dr. Marilyn Stokstad, a renowned art historian, University of Kansas distinguished professor emerita of art history, and former art museum director, has made a lead gift to create an endowed directorship at the Spencer Museum of Art.

Her gift establishes the Marilyn Stokstad Director, which will support and strengthen the Spencer Museum of Art’s innovative programming and initiatives, including: research and travel opportunities for the director; internships for students; research and publishing projects involving students and faculty; and the engagement of scholars from across the humanities and other disciplines.

An expert in medieval art and Spanish art, Dr. Stokstad is the author of art history textbooks used widely by universities, including multiple volumes and editions of Art History and Art: A Brief History as well as Medieval Art. Throughout her career, Dr. Stokstad has undertaken a number of major research endeavors, pioneering an interdisciplinary scholarly approach through her widely lauded project, Humanist in the Art Museum.

“The Spencer Museum is one of the jewels of the University of Kansas,” said Dr. Stokstad. “My gift will support the director’s position in ways that will enhance research, education and an appreciation of the arts’ contributions to society. I’m thrilled to be able to make this gift, which will benefit the museum in perpetuity.”

Dr. Stokstad has been a leader in art history for decades. She directed the KU Museum of Art (now named the Spencer Museum of Art) from 1961 to 1968. She has also served as president of the College Art Association and the International Center of Medieval Art. Her many awards and professional honors include: a lifetime achievement award from the National Women’s Caucus for Art, Kansas Arts Commission Governor’s Arts Award as the Kansas Art Educator of the Year, Chancellors Club Career Teaching Award, and an honorary degree of doctor of humane letters by Carleton College. She has served as a consultative curator of medieval art for the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo.

Dr. Stokstad graduated from Carleton College in 1950 before spending a year at the University of Oslo, Norway, as a Fulbright Fellow. She earned a master’s degree from Michigan State University in 1953 and a doctoral degree from the University of Michigan in 1957. Dr. Stokstad joined the University of Kansas faculty in 1958, served as associate dean of the KU College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1972 to 1976, and taught more than 20 different courses — ranging from introductory art to graduate seminars — before retiring in 2002. She is currently the Judith Harris Murphy Distinguished Professor Emerita of Art History.

Saralyn Reece Hardy, director of the Spencer Museum of Art, expressed appreciation for the gift. “It is a great honor and privilege to receive this generous gift from Dr. Marilyn Stokstad,” she said. “The endowed directorship represents her enduring commitment to the field of art history as well as her unwavering belief in the university art museum as an essential part of higher education. She has been an inspirational leader to so many of us throughout her career.”

Dr. Stokstad’s gift is part of Far Above: The Campaign for Kansas, the University of Kansas’s comprehensive fundraising campaign managed by KU Endowment, an independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU.

Dr. Marilyn Stokstad | University of Kansas | Spencer Museum of Art |


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