The James P. Schwartz Endowed Memorial Lecture Series was started in 1973 to honor James P. Schwartz, who was struck by lightning and killed on the Crestview Country Club golf course (now the Braeburn Golf Course) on June 16, 1973.
Mr. Schwartz was a 1962 graduate of WSU, with a bachelors in Business Administration. He attended Harvard, obtaining his MBA in 1964. Upon graduation, he returned to Wichita and worked for the CPA firm of Elmer Fox & Company, where he was made partner in 1964. In 1970, he joined Pizza Hut, Inc. as an assistant to the chairman of the Board. Eight months later, he was appointed Vice President of Finance.
Originally, a memorial scholarship was to be established in James’ name until a meeting between a WSU representative, Frank Carney, Dan Carne, Alice Mostrom and Gene Friedman. At this meeting, it was discovered that James did not really prefer scholarships, but prior to his death had discussed with Gene Friedman the importance of having different outside speakers come to WSU to lecture. The meeting attendees determined that a lecture series would be a more appropriate memorial to James.
The fund was initially started with $19,675 and it was determined that one guest speaker would come on campus each year. The selection of speakers would not be limited to any particular field. Fran Jabara agreed to organize the lecture series. James H. Wille, President of Kentucky Fried Chicken Corporation, was the first guest speaker during the 1974-75 academic year. Over the years, the fund has been used to support the Executive and Entrepreneur in Residence lecture series as a result of Fran’s early involvement.
James was survived by a daughter, Tracy (who was 13) and a son, James (who was 11). The son, who goes by Jim, is currently the president of NPC International, one of the largest Pizza Hut franchises in the country. He is a KU graduate and serves on the KU Alumni Advisory Board as well as the KU Business School Advisory Board. He is married with two children.