Who was Frank Bangs?
Frank Bangs graduated from KU in 1940 with a degree in Business Administration. During World War II, he served as a Naval officer in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters, becoming a Navy pilot in 1943. Upon his return to Kansas after the war, he founded Frank Bangs Audio-Video, Inc. and became a pioneer in the use of audiovisual equipment as an educational tool. His company was actively involved in installing language laboratories in high schools and universities throughout Kansas, including those installed at the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center at KU. In addition to his work establishing his own company, Bangs served terms as both president and chairman of the National Audio Visual Association.
Upon Bangs' death in May of 1998, Charles E. and Charlotte Curry developed a $50,000 gift to establish the Frank Bangs Memorial Classroom Fund. The couple personally donated $10,000 and arranged an additional $40,000 gift from the Curry Foundation, of which Charles Curry was the chairman of the board and Charlotte Curry its president. Charles E. Curry graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Kansas in 1940. While at KU, he and Frank Bangs were roommates and members of Phi Delta Theta fraternity. They remained life-long friends. After serving as a lieutenant in the Navy from 1942 to 1945, Curry spent most of his career in banking. Among other positions, he was a member of the Missouri Commission for Commerce and Industry, served for eight years as the presiding judge of the county court in Jackson County, Mo. and was president of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce. He also served as the treasurer of the Democratic National Committee in the 1980s. Mr. Curry passed away in December of 2010 at the age of 92.
The Frank Bangs Memorial Computer Classroom was dedicated in the Fall of 2000. Among the many friends and family at the ceremony were Margaret Wilson Bangs, wife of Frank Bangs and Phi Beta Kappa graduate of KU with bachelor's and master's degrees in English. Since its dedication, the classroom has been a vital resource for classes throughout the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In the summer of 2014, the Bangs Classroom underwent a major renovation that doubled its size and transformed into an Active Learning Classroom.
In addition to the Sony 9000 language lab system at the heart of the Ermal Garinger Academic Resource Center until 2003, almost every classroom on fourth floor Wescoe had equipment installed by Frank Bangs Audio-Video, Inc. As such, Frank Bangs' name is inextricably linked with the history of language learning at the University of Kansas. The establishment of the Frank Bangs Memorial Computer Classroom insures that his name will be just as closely associated with its future.