Making a Difference

KSU Foundation Trustees think BIG at fall meeting

On a rainy Friday, October 4, KSU Foundation Trustees met for the fall 2019 Board of Trustees meeting. More than 300 trustees attended and learned of many ways K-Staters are thinking big to advance Kansas State University.

Rand Berney, chair of the board of trustees, ran the business meeting in which 54 returning trustees were elected to continue their service on the board. Fifty-two new trustees were approved for the board and 32 trustees were approved for emeritus status. There are 367 members of the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees.

Kelly Lechtenberg, Damon Hininger and Tim Taylor were elected for three-year terms on the board of directors. Steve Lacey was elected board of trustees chair and Kelly Lechtenberg was elected as vice chair.

Greg Willems shared the many ways the foundation, with trustee support, is advancing Kansas State University priorities, with help in recruiting and fundraising. In addition, Willems shared fiscal year 2019 results and gave an overview of the evolution of fundraising at KSU Foundation.

President Richard Myers informed trustees of new hires to fill leadership positions on campus, how K-State has improved its freshman-to-sophomore retention rate and how the 6-year graduation rate has hit an all-time high. Myers shared how K-State is working to increase enrollment and modernize the budget, creating new programs to address workforce needs, and K-State’s successes in funding research, growing economic development and providing a great student experience. Myers gave an update on new and renovated facilities, including Hale Library, the Morris Family Multicultural Center and the McCain lobby expansion. Myers ended his presentation by unveiling the updated goals for K-State 2025, which are to focus on four strategic areas: global food, health and biosecurity; aviation; the cyber land-grant university; and innovation in education.

K-State Family Scholarship Program

The K-State Family Scholarship Program has increased the number of scholarships immediately available to students and helped bring in new major gift donors to K-State. Sheila Walker, associate vice president of development, moderated a panel about the program. Mary Vanier provided the seed funds for several family scholarships; Brad Behnke, a kinesiology faculty member, was one of six kinesiology faculty who took advantage of the match opportunity to create a scholarship; Charlie and Debbie Morrison (represented by Debbie on stage) created two scholarships through the match program; and Katie Gnagi, a senior in mechanical engineering, received one of the scholarships.

Mary Vanier shared why she is passionate about increasing scholarships for students at K-State and helping new donors make a difference. Brad Behnke and Debbie Morrison shared that their undergraduate experiences inspired them to take advantage of these matching opportunities to provide support for students, as they’d once received themselves. Katie Gnagi gratefully explained how scholarships have greatly impacted her experience, providing her the time to make lifelong friendships and participate in meaningful extracurricular activities.

Erin Brockovich

The keynote speaker was Erin Brockovich, a consumer advocate, environmental activist and former K-State student who shared how we, as everyday people, can change the world.

Erin Brockovich is the youngest child of an industrial engineer father and journalist mother in Lawrence, Kansas — where she was raised to believe she could do anything she set her mind to.

Once an unknown legal researcher, Erin is now a household name. It’s been more than 15 years since Julia Roberts starred as Erin in the Oscar-winning film, “Erin Brockovich.” Erin’s exhaustive investigation began while she was organizing papers on a pro bono real estate case as a law firm file clerk in California. In those papers, she found medical records that would lead to the largest direct action lawsuit in U.S. history.

Erin spoke to trustees about how her childhood in Kansas shaped her into the person she is today, and she encouraged the trustees to stand up and make a difference for K-State.

Brandeberry Indoor Complex was transformed for a Trustee luncheon and afternoon program.

K-State Athletics
For lunch, trustees were transported by bus from McCain Auditorium to the Brandeberry Indoor Complex where they were greeted by Willie, cheerleaders and members of the K-State Marching Band. After food and conversation, Gene Taylor spoke with trustees about K-State Athletics’ mission, budget, economic impact on the region and their master facilities plan. In the next several years, K-State Athletics plans to complete the south endzone between Bill Snyder Family Stadium and Bramlage Coliseum, build a new indoor football practice facility, and build a new volleyball arena and Olympic performance training facility.

Sarah Barrett, Cats’ Cupboard founder, shared the impact All In funds have had for the pantry by sharing a receipt from a recent shopping trip to Dillons.

All In for K-State
Eric Holderness and John Morris, of the KSU Foundation, shared how the giving day All In for K-State came to be. Instead of having a day where donors could give to whatever they wanted, the KSU Foundation decided to have supporters rally around one idea, taking it from start up to flourishing. The inaugural All In for K-State recipient was the K-State food pantry, Cats’ Cupboard.

Trustees Diane Patrick and Mary Ice spoke about why they were passionate about supporting Cats’ Cupboard. Dillons store manager Marc Moreau and Sheila Lowrie, corporate affairs manager for Kroger, spoke about how they were inspired to invest in the pantry and create a partnership that continues today. Sarah Barrett, Cats’ Cupboard founder, shared the impact All In funds have had for the pantry and what that means for its future success.

After the presentation, trustees and students packed snack bags for Cats’ Cupboard customers, marking the end of Cats’ Cupboard as the All In for K-State focus program. Selection will begin soon for the recipient program of All In for K-State 2020.

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