Kirk Douglas, St. Lawrence University alum, was generous, committed to alma mater


President Bill Fox & Kirk Douglas

WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) – A legend of the big screen, Kirk Douglas, died yesterday at the age of 103.

Douglas grew up in Amsterdam, NY and graduated from St. Lawrence University with a degree in English in 1939. Though his focus was in English, he was the president of the student government organization on campus, a member of the SLU Wrestling Team, and a member of German club.

During his time at St. Lawrence University, Kirk Douglas also participated in dramatic productions on campus. This is where his love for the big screen took off, setting up his 85 film career. Some of these films include classics such as, SpartacusLonely Are the BraveLust for Life, and Gunfight at the OK Corral

“Kirk Douglas has been transcendently generous to St. Lawrence University and remained committed to his alma mater and our students throughout the decades,” said St. Lawrence University President William L. Fox. “Kirk knew that diversity made St. Lawrence and the world stronger because of his own background and experiences. Every Laurentian can certainly say, ‘I am Spartacus.’” 

Kirk and his wife Anne Douglas established the Kirk Douglas Scholarship to help young people with backgrounds that were similar to Kirk’s when he grew up during the Great Depression. The primary focus of this scholarship is to increase diversity on campus and highlight underrepresented students who excel academically.

Kirk was named one of the fifty greatest film legend of all time by the American Film Institute, presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1981, the national Medal of Arts in 2001, and was a best-selling author with a total of eleven books, including a soon to be published work of poetry, Life Could Be Verse.

In 2014, St. Lawrence University named its newest building and residential facility Douglas Kirk Hall. Within the residence hall is the always popular, Spartacus Cafe.


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