Bob Campbell’s $17 million gift to benefit thousands of Kansas State University students

Robert “Bob” Campbell was a self-made man who took advantage of opportunities others may have missed. Through his K-State education, tenacity and self-taught start in the oil business, he was able to build a lucrative career.

“Because Bob started from scratch, he cared about others and wanted to help kids,” said Kent Sedlacek, senior director of gift, estate and trust planning at the KSU Foundation. “His gift to K-State was how he could make a difference in students’ lives and in the university. He delighted in both being generous and doing things his own way.”

As part of his estate plan, Bob established a $17 million scholarship and recognition fund to help the next generation of K-State students launch their own successful careers and inspire others to support the university. The Robert E. Campbell Opportunity Scholarship and Robert E. Campbell Opportunity Scholars Recognition Fund is in addition to a $1 million gift he made to the College of Business Administration in 2018.

Finding his self-starter spirit

Campbell was a first-generation student who studied business administration at K-State via the GI Bill after serving in WWII with the United States Army Air Corps, a precursor to the U.S. Air Force. After his 1950 graduation from the College of Business, he sold bonds before eventually researching “how the oil business worked” and in 1963 launching his own company, Robert E. Campbell Oil and Gas Operations, which he operated for 56 years.

At his 2016 induction into K-State’s College of Business Distinguished Business Leaders Hall of Fame, Campbell said, “Kansas State University is where I grew intellectually and as a person.” Then he encouraged students to apply themselves and nurture their ideas toward their own goals.

Making a lasting impact

His gift to create the Robert “Bob” Campbell Scholars will help fortify the university he loved and support students working toward the K-State education that launched his successful enterprise.

“Thousands of students will benefit from this incredible gift as it helps K-State achieve our land-grant promise of providing access to higher education,” said Kansas State University’s new president, Richard Linton. “Bob Campbell’s desire to give back and make a difference in the lives of our students serves as a shining example of what the K-State family is all about. We are grateful for his generosity and support.”

Bob was a familiar sight at Wildcat sports events and enjoyed meeting with faculty and students.

“Bob Campbell was a proud K-State alumnus and genuinely enjoyed supporting his alma mater,” said Greg Willems, CEO and president of KSU Foundation. “He exemplified K-State family in his excitement to spend time with the campus community and hardly ever missed a Wildcat game. We are grateful Bob made sure generations of students get their successful starts at K-State.”

About the KSU Foundation

As Kansas State University’s strategic partner for philanthropy, the KSU Foundation inspires and guides philanthropy toward university priorities to boldly advance K-State family. Visit for more information.

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