More than a year has passed since Xan Korman died, but his legacy at Butler University is still just getting started. Korman was a rising junior and a promising photographer who loved covering the Butler men’s basketball team when he was gravely injured in a drive-by shooting in his home state of Maryland. He passed away a few days later on August 19, 2021. Recently, his parents established the Xan Korman Legacy Project’s Endowed Scholarship Fund in his honor to support Butler students who share Xan’s passions. The scholarship will be awarded to students who are credentialed to provide coverage of the men’s basketball team, with preference for a student interested in photography.
“We are hoping that there is a student who shares Xan’s passions of photography and basketball that will learn a little bit about Xan and what he stood for, about his selflessness, his compassion, his generosity, his enthusiasm, and that learning a little bit about Xan will have an impact on them,” said Xan’s mother, Carolyn.
As an endowed fund, the scholarship will exist in perpetuity at Butler, ensuring that Korman’s legacy will benefit future aspiring photographers at Butler for generations to come.
Korman’s parents say Butler was always high on the list of colleges he was interested in attending, but it was during a basketball game in Hinkle Fieldhouse on a campus visit when Xan first sensed that Butler felt like home.
“We were sitting in Hinkle watching the game and at some point he just leaned over and said, ’I think I like it here,’” Carolyn said.
Korman enrolled at Butler as a Lacy School of Business student majoring in Entrepreneurship, but it was his work as a photographer for The Butler Collegian covering the men’s basketball team where his true passion began to surface.
“Like many other parents we would say, ‘You should join a club,’ so he signed up for the newspaper, and I would say his view of photography changed within a month or a month and a half,” said Xan’s father, Steve. “He was just off and running very shortly after he started at Butler. Shooting the basketball team merged his talents, skills, and passions very quickly.”
Korman developed strong friendships with the managers, players, and coaching staff on the team and welcomed every opportunity to shoot photos of games or practices, eventually working himself into a unique role as an informal on-call photographer for all things basketball.
“Xan’s passion for media was way deeper than just a few pictures and videos,” said Chuck Harris ‘24, one of Korman’s closest friends and a guard on the men’s basketball team. “He felt that it was what he was meant to do. Every day he looked for opportunities to grow his platform to one day be at the top of his profession. Xan was a relentless worker and inspired myself and others around him to give their all to what they want to do.”
Xan was especially known for his unique style of capturing the emotion and story of the game beyond just the action on the court.
“He spent a lot of time doing what we refer to as shooting away from the ball, so he would be focused on the bench while other photographers would be focused on the court,” Carolyn said. “He wanted to capture the reaction and the emotion. When the pandemic hit, he was home and he did some amazing work at Black Lives Matters marches in Washington, D.C. Photos were his way of telling a story.”
Since Xan’s death, Carolyn and Steve have been focused on creating something positive out of the tragedy. The Xan Korman Legacy Project was established at the Greater Washington Community Foundation and the Kormans are directing memorial gifts to the fund to support causes Xan cared about including photography, racial justice, organ donation, and anti-gun violence. The fifth and pillar cause is the Xan Korman Legacy Project’s Endowed Scholarship at Butler.
By the spring of his sophomore year, Xan was struggling with his business school classes and finding himself pulled more strongly toward photography. A conversation with Butler Academic Advisor and Student Development Specialist Jen Mann helped Xan chart out a new path forward at Butler. He switched his major to Creative Media and Entertainment in the College of Communication and excelled in the three courses he took in his new major over the summer session.
“The Xan Korman scholarship is the perfect way to honor Xan, his academic journey, and his passion for creative media,” Mann said. “Xan made a brave decision to follow his heart and develop his passions in creative media, design, photography, and videography. Many students may question whether their hobbies can be developed into a profession. This scholarship will allow Butler students the support that they need to validate their talents and passions. No one loved the Butler Men’s Basketball program more than Xan. Creating visual content for men’s basketball was his way of showing his appreciation and gratitude for the sport, the members of the team, and ultimately for Butler.”
Steve and Carolyn maintain contact with many of Xan’s Butler friends, including members of the men’s basketball team. They say it is bittersweet to watch his classmates preparing to graduate, but they are grateful to still be part of the Butler family where Xan found so much joy.
“The love we’ve been shown by so many people that came into his life, it keeps us going,” Steve said. “He was so passionate about the program and the school. We’re just trying to share his legacy and keep his name and the things he stood for alive.”
Contributions can be made to the Xan Korman Legacy Project’s Endowed Scholarship Fund at Butler by selecting “Other Designation” on the Butler giving form.