Gift honors two extraordinary women, benefits UNO's STEM initiatives
Posted: Thu, Oct 17, 2013
Omaha, Neb. – The establishment of a new endowed professorship will further strengthen STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education at the University of Nebraska at Omaha while honoring family members of a highly accomplished UNO graduate.
The Kahn Family Foundation recently made a gift to the University of Nebraska Foundation to create the Sophie and Feodora Kahn Professorship in Biology. The amount of the gift is not being disclosed at the request of the donor.
Sophie and Feodora Kahn are the mother and aunt, respectively, of Guinter Kahn, M.D., who graduated from Omaha University (now UNO) in 1954. He is known for revolutionizing the hair-growth industry with his discovery that the drug Minoxidil is an effective hair-growth stimulant. The drug eventually was manufactured and sold by Upjohn as Rogaine.
"The creation of the Kahn Professorship builds on the tremendous momentum at UNO in the area of STEM education," said UNO Chancellor John E. Christensen. "It strengthens our ability to attract and retain the very best faculty who will educate the future leaders in these critical fields. We are grateful to the Kahn family whose commitment to excellence in education and to recognizing two extraordinary women through this professorship is outstanding."
This professorship is the fifth endowed faculty position created during the foundation's Campaign for Nebraska in the STEM disciplines at UNO.
Sophie and Feodora Kahn both immigrated to the United States from Germany during World War II. Feodora and her husband, Isidor, arrived first in 1936 through the help of Grand Island, Neb., resident David Kaufman. Kaufman was responsible for helping more than 80 families immigrate to the U.S. during the Holocaust, many of whom settled in Nebraska. Among these families were Feodora's sister-in-law, Sophie, her husband and sons, Guinter and Marcel.
"By establishing this chair in biology, we wish to honor my grandmother, Sophie Kahn, and my great aunt, Feodora Kahn," said Michelle Kahn, a trustee of the Kahn Family Foundation and Guinter Kahn's daughter. "It was because of their heroism and foresight that our family escaped Nazi Germany and came to Omaha. Thanks to these women with merely 8th grade educations, my father had the opportunity to graduate from high school, college and medical school. That level of education was something which the previous generations of Kahns could only dream of attaining.
"In college, his interests lay in the areas now known as the STEM subjects, and when my father decided to major in biology and go to medical school, my grandmother had only one request, ‘Be a good doctor.' He not only became a good doctor, but he exceeded her expectations tenfold, and our hope is that this professorship will pave the way for many more good doctors, researchers, inventors and teachers, like my father, for years to come."
David Boocker, dean of the UNO College of Arts and Sciences, said endowed faculty positions are critical support for the college.
"This new professorship will help elevate the college by supporting an outstanding faculty member whose teaching and research contributions are extraordinary," said Boocker. "It's an honor for our campus to not only have Guinter Kahn's name but now Sophie's and Feodora's permanently associated with UNO."
Guinter Kahn was a lead donor to the UNO library expansion and renovation project on the occasion of his 50th class reunion. To recognize his generous support the university named the library addition in his honor, the Dr. Guinter Kahn Addition, in 2006.