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Endowments are forever; hopefully cancer won't be

Kenneth Scott grew up on a livestock farm in the Texas Hill Country just outside of Lampasas. The rural, agrarian life often reflected Thomas Edison’s familiar phrase “early to bed, early to rise” in that you put in a full day’s work just to get the job done. When high school graduation came, Scott thought he’d discover a more suitable direction for his career. Today, he gently laughs at his prodigal choice of schools and college major – the University of Texas and engineering.

“Basically, neither one of them worked out,” he said.

In the spring of 1948, Scott’s cousins out on the High Plains enticed him to greener pastures and life as a Red Raider. He also returned to his roots, majoring in agriculture, and from then on things “worked out real good,” he said. Scott graduated from Texas Tech in 1950 with a degree in agricultural sciences/dairy management, and then pursued a master’s at Michigan State University. A 35-year career in public health then took him to Houston and Abilene before bringing Scott back to Lubbock, where he joined the faculty in the College of Agricultural Sciences. Scott soon realized that he preferred public health work to that of academia and says he was fortunate that a position as lab director in the Lubbock City County Health Department came open allowing him to return to the work he enjoyed. In 1985, Scott retired from public health, having served the last decade of his career with the Texas Department of Health as a lab consultant to the Medicare program, and picked up management of the family farm.

Through his work in public health, Scott gained an understanding of the importance of research for identification or treatment of contaminants and disease. And he knew, through managing the family farm, what a sound investment could do for business. He also had witnessed firsthand the frustration and struggles of those battling cancer.

Scott’s first wife, Mary, passed away in 2002 with lung cancer, and they had lost her mother and sister to cancer as well. As a result, he had for years faithfully supported a nonprofit cancer organization, but said he was looking for an investment with a better return – one that would use 100 percent of the funds for research.

For years, Scott had also given generously to various programs within the TTU System. In 2009, TTUHSC was added to the list when Scott was asked to support the university’s efforts in cancer research.

“I didn’t even know Texas Tech was doing (cancer) research, but university people involved in research are the top of the ladder in my opinion,” he said. “I met Dr. Reynolds and was impressed by what he was doing.”

C. Patrick Reynolds, M.D., Ph.D., is director of the School of Medicine Cancer Center. The center conducts laboratory and clinical research that develops new anti-cancer drugs for both adults and children with difficult-to-treat cancers. His research focuses on retinoids, drugs derived from vitamin A, in treating cancer; Reynolds is credited with pioneering the development of a drug used to treat the childhood cancer neuroblastoma, that is now recognized as the worldwide standard of care.

Reynolds’ work is now supported in part by the Kenneth Terry Scott Endowment for Cancer Research. “I wanted to invest in a way that would produce a good return and an endowment is something that will carry on,” Scott said. “You just can’t get much better return than a lifelong gift to help advance treatments for cancer or one that might just someday lead to a cure.”

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