Melia and Ryan Pfannenstiel remember the professors, staff and students who shaped their time at Kansas State University when they graciously funded the Evelyn M. Bieker Political Science Scholarship. They have fond memories of their time in college that have inspired them to give back to their alma mater.
“Attending college presents you a view of the world that is bigger than yourself. This is where philanthropy begins to take root,” Ryan said. “During graduate school, Melia was the beneficiary of funding and resources that were provided through the Department of Political Science. She saw firsthand how important donors can be to a department. We wanted to help future generations by lessening the financial burden as much as possible.”
When the opportunity arose to make a difference in the lives of K-State students by creating an estate plan, the couple was eager to do so. Estate gifts through a will or trust allow donors to retain lifetime control of their assets; establishing a plan now and funding it later.
“Our original goal was to make sure our loved ones were taken care of. With that goal complete, we expanded our legacy to include the institution that encompassed our extended family; the K-State family,” Ryan said.
Ryan earned a degree in marketing and international business in 2005. Melia earned a Master’s degree in Political Science in 2008 and a Doctorate in Security Studies in 2015. She is now an assistant professor at the US Air War College in Alabama. The couple wishes to help fellow K-Staters realize it is never too early to establish a way to give back to the university.
“You are never too young to think about future generations of students and there is no amount of money that is insignificant. Immediately after college, we began donating small amounts of $30, then $50, then $100,” Ryan said. “Ultimately, our decision to expand giving now was a result of the consequential budget cuts requiring the state’s public universities to do more with less and increase student costs. Faculty support is critical to ensure K-State has the resources to retain first-rate faculty who positively impact students through dynamic classroom instruction and research opportunities. Future generations of K-State students will change the world for the better, and now is the time to invest in their success.”
The department is, of course, extremely grateful that the Pfannesteil’s have decided to support current and future K-Staters through the Bieker Scholarship.