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Source: Art DeGroat, 785-532-0369, degroata@k-state.edu
Photos available. Contact media@k-state.edu or 785-532-2535
News release prepared by: Greg Tammen, 785-532-2535, media@k-state.edu

Friday, June 25, 2010

FORT RILEY RECOGNIZES K-STATE'S ART DEGROAT WITH HIGH CIVILIAN HONOR

MANHATTAN -- A commitment to building and strengthening the relationship between Fort Riley and Kansas State University has earned K-State's Art DeGroat a special honor.

DeGroat, director of military affairs at K-State and a retired Army lieutenant colonel, was honored June 18 with Fort Riley's Distinguished Trooper Award, one of the post's highest awards for private citizens.

The award is given in recognition of a citizen's sustained public service and contributions to the Fort Riley community. In DeGroat's case, the honor recognizes his work building and strengthening the bond between K-State and Fort Riley during the last four years.

"It feels great. It's kind of validation for everything we have been doing to help Fort Riley," DeGroat said. "I also feel like this award is really recognizing a larger community of university leaders engaging the military at Fort Riley. For an Army post and a university to work as closely together as we do is a rare and valuable experience."

To DeGroat's knowledge, the K-State-Fort Riley partnership has no equal nationwide. Because of this relationship, DeGroat said he has been able to pioneer new opportunities that mutually benefit both institutions -- especially students and soldiers. His current efforts aim to bring more K-State faculty to the post to see firsthand the opportunities to expand the relationship.

"As a Distinguished Trooper I guess I'm kind of serving equally as an ambassador for K-State and for Fort Riley," DeGroat said.

A relationship with Fort Riley personnel is especially important since K-State is a land-grant institution, DeGroat said.

"K-State has a mission to provide our Kansas military residents with education, research and outreach services that help their development, military service and quality of life," DeGroat said. "It also is important that K-State help build a vibrant community for the welfare of our 23,500 students and the 18,000 Fort Riley soldiers, so it's imperative that these two communities share a common connection."

Former Fort Riley commander Maj. Gen. Robert J. St. Onge Jr. established the Distinguished Trooper Award in 2001. It consists of a sequentially numbered gold medallion engraved with the recipient's name and a certificate signed by the post's current commanding general. Since its inception it has only been awarded to a handful of individuals.