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Kansas State University

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Growing research

Under Wefald's leadership, K-State became a research powerhouse


Since Jon Wefald took the reigns at K-State more than two decades ago, research has grown into a campuswide enterprise.

This last fiscal year, faculty researchers received 926 competitive grants totaling a record $118 million, according to Ron Trewyn, K-State's vice president for research. That's a more than sixfold increase in competitive funding since Wefald became president in 1986. Add in $67.3 million in state and federal research funds, and $33.6 million in support from the Kansas State University Foundation, the university's funding base for research alone was $219 million last fiscal year, Trewyn said.

"Since the beginning of his tenure, Jon Wefald has stressed excellence in research," Trewyn said. "From attracting high-quality faculty, to investing in top-of-the-line research facilities, President Wefald has positioned K-State at the top of a distinguished list of research and doctoral universities."

K-State's research excellence was most recently acknowledged by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, when it named Manhattan the new home for the National Bio- and Agro-defense Facility. The facility, also known as NBAF, will be the nation's premier federal animal health laboratory.

"Homeland security was looking to put NBAF in a place with an already established and well-respected research program in animal health and food safety and security. Decision makers specifically noted that the research programs at K-State's Colleges of Agriculture and Veterinary Medicine were an invaluable asset to NBAF's mission," Trewyn said. "Thanks to President Wefald's leadership, K-State was already at the forefront of food safety research initiatives two-and-a half years before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11."

Today, more than 150 K-Staters are involved in food safety and security and animal health research, with projects tackling issues in plant health, animal nutrition, infectious disease and public health.

To bolster K-State's expertise even further, Wefald spearheaded the campaign to build K-State's Biosecurity Research Institute -- a task that took a unique combination of visionary leadership and political will, Trewyn said. Having the ability to do secure and sophisticated research helped clinch K-State's bid for NBAF because the Department of Homeland Security could launch its research efforts before the NBAF is complete, he said.

"Over the last 23 years, Wefald created an academic environment where quality research could flourish in all disciplines across campus," Trewyn said. "His visionary leadership has undoubtedly made K-State what it is today -- one of the most relevant and competitive research universities in the nation."


Photo: K-State's Biosecurity Research Institute is one of the many forward-looking research initiatives that began during Wefald's 23-year tenure as president.