KU Med to share in $10 million gift from late dean, husband
Lawrence Stata Norton Ringle never stopped learning, and she never stopped giving back to Kansas University, either.
The KU Endowment Association on Thursday announced a $10 million gift from the estate of Ringle, a former dean and professor at the KU Medical Center, and her husband, David Ringle. They both died in 2012 at ages 89 and 88, respectively.
Equal parts of the gift will go toward three different purposes: scholarships for students in the School of Health Professions at KUMC, and acquisitions and maintenance for the Clendening History of Medicine Library at KUMC and for the KU Libraries distinctive collections in Lawrence, housed at Kenneth Spencer Research Library.
Stata Ringle was a professor in the School of Health Professions from 1962 to 1990, when it was called the School of Allied Health. She was also the school’s dean for part of that time.
The author of more than 150 research papers, she was a leading scientist in pharmacology, said John Ferraro, whom Ringle hired to be chairman of the school’s hearing and speech department in 1984. And she did that at a time when few nationally prominent scientists were women, making her a pioneer twice over.
And as the school’s dean, she was the “gold standard,” Ferraro said.
“She really helped lay the groundwork and the framework for the school as it is today,” said Ferraro, who still serves as hearing and speech chairman.
She held a passion for learning, especially learning about history, well into her retirement, Ferraro said.
That was especially clear when she spent much of her 80s translating a 400-page manuscript in the Spencer Research Library in Lawrence called the “Jesuatti Book of Remedies.”
It was a book of pharmaceutical recipes written by friars in 16th century Italy, and KU had the only copy in the world. And after Stata learned about it, she was determined to translate it to English, said Rick Clement, who was the head of special collections for the KU Libraries at the time.
This was despite a considerable hurdle: She did not speak Italian. But she learned it, then spent four years translating about 2,000 entries.
“I mean, she was on a mission,” said Clement, now dean of libraries at Utah State University. “She was kind of lit up, if you know what I mean.”
The translation is now available online through the KU Libraries.
The Ringles’ gift will help the KU Libraries acquire other unique or rare materials such the “Jesuatti Book,” maintain its current distinctive collections and digitize them for wider access, said Lorraine Haricombe, KU’s dean of libraries.
She said the more than $3 million share for the Lawrence campus libraries was by far the largest gift for the libraries since she came to KU in 2006.
“The Ringles clearly understood the role of librarians, archives and archivists, all, to open up the world and the human record for better exploration,” Haricombe said.
David Ringle was also a scientist, working as a research physiologist at the Midwest Research Institute, now MRIGlobal, in Kansas City, Mo.
The Ringles lived in Leawood. They were married for 62 years and died about three months apart last year.
They had no children, and they enjoyed spending time at a farm home they owned near Gardner, Ferraro said.
The Ringles previously gave nearly $250,000 to KU during their lives, most of it split among the School of Health Professions and the libraries at the two campuses.
KU Endowment staff members began working with the Ringles to plan their estate gift about 15 years ago, said KU Endowment President Dale Seuferling.
“They really obviously were very thoughtful in their plans,” Seuferling said, “and we were delighted to work with them to help execute what they wanted to accomplish.”