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Sources: M. Duane Nellis, 785-532-6224,;
and Mary Hale Tolar, 785-532-6085,
Photo available: Contact or 785-532-6415.
Note to editors: Tolar is a graduate of Topeka High School.
News release prepared by: Katie Mayes, 785-532-6415,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


MANHATTAN -- Mary Hale Tolar has been named director of Kansas State University's School of Leadership Studies.

"I am delighted that Mary has agreed to become director of K-State's School of Leadership Studies," said M. Duane Nellis, K-State's provost and senior vice president. "Her long history as a K-Stater and her own effective style of leadership will ensure that the school excels as it prepares society's leaders for the challenges that await."

Tolar had been serving as the school's interim director since Jan. 1. Prior to that, she was associate director for civic leadership and directed the school's community service, service-learning, nonprofit leadership and student civic engagement efforts. She also holds the rank of assistant professor and is director of the Coffman Leadership Institute.

"I am thankful for the faculty support and am honored to serve," Tolar said. "Exercising leadership in times of significant challenge and transition presents great opportunity. Developing knowledgeable, ethical, caring and inclusive leaders remains the school's compelling mission -- and preparing students to lead in a diverse and changing world has never been more important."

Since being launched 12 years ago, enrollment in K-State leadership studies and programs has grown to around 1,400 students.

Through private donations, the school's new $11 million building is under construction. When completed, it will be the first Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certified building on the K-State campus.

"These significant gains are due to the collaborative efforts of partners across campus in all colleges and the extraordinary support and commitment of our students and alumni," Tolar said.

Before joining K-State, Tolar served as executive director of Kansas Campus Compact, a statewide member organization hosted by K-State that works with college presidents across the state to advance civic engagement and the public purpose of higher education. She also was deputy executive secretary and chief of staff for the Truman Scholarship Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Tolar is a Truman Scholar, Rhodes Scholar, founding member of the National Association of Fellowships Advisors and co-author/editor of "The Lucky Few and the Worthy Many: Scholarships and the World's Future Leaders." In 2007 she also was honored with the Truman Foundation's Staats Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the public sector and extraordinary service to the foundation. She has spent more than a dozen years in higher education administration, serving five institutions in capacities ranging from scholarship adviser to development officer.

Tolar has a bachelor's degree in history from K-State, a master of letters in modern history from Oxford University and a doctorate in educational leadership, also from K-State.