$1M gift establishes KU architecture professorship to honor Lou Michel

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas architecture professor Lou Michel had a way of making an impression on his students. 

“My classmates and I would poke fun at his double-knit leisure suits and ascots, but he really knew his stuff,” said Scott Davies, who received a degree in architecture from KU in 1979. “I would say that of all my professors at KU, he was probably the best.” 

Davies, of Hot Springs, Arkansas, decided to honor his former professor with a $1 million gift commitment through KU Endowment that establishes the Lou Michel Architecture Professorship in Design Theory. 

Michel taught architectural history at KU for 30 years. Through his classes, he opened up a new world to Davies, a kid from the small town of Camden, Arkansas, by exposing him to art and architecture from all over the globe. And through conversations with classmates, Davies said he’s learned that Michel’s classes had the same influence on them. 

“When they travel and see these works of art or significant architectural landmarks, they can still quote what Lou taught them, all these years later,” Davies said. 

After graduating from KU, Davies returned to Arkansas, met his wife, Jeanette, and spent 25 years in private practice, eventually retiring in 2013. 

Michel retired from KU in 2000 and lives in Bellingham, Washington, with his wife, Diane Carol Michel. In 2001, almost 100 alumni and faculty members established a scholarship in Michel’s honor, recognizing his achievements in architecture and his legendary status as an impassioned lecturer. 

Mahbub Rashid, interim dean of the School of Architecture & Design, expressed his gratitude for the Davies’ generosity and dedication to KU’s continued academic excellence. 

“Scott and Jeanette Davies’ gift to the school will help us permanently honor Lou Michel — one of our most beloved professors,” Rashid said. “And at a time when resources are limited, it also will help our school attract an outstanding theorist of architecture and urban design for impactful teaching, research and learning befitting the 21st century.” 

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. 

Top right photo: Scott Davies, Lou Michel and Scott's KU architecture classmate Tom Roberts visit in Bellingham, Washington, in 2019.  
Bottom right photo: Jeanette and Scott Davies enjoy a cruise on the Seine in France in 2015.