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Office of the President

Letters to campus

October 2015

Dear Faculty and Staff,

Happy Halloween! As many of you may know from social media, Noel and I welcomed Cayenne to the family earlier this semester. Cayenne is a Welsh Corgi and the fifth current member of our family residing in Manhattan along with Noel, myself and two cats — Amber and Onyx.

I was out walking Cayenne in the backyard this past week, and she starting barking frantically and dashed off into the nearby trees. I rushed after her and was amazed to see none other than the Great Pumpkin walking on one of the campus pathways.

Many of you may not have had the opportunity previously to visit with the Great Pumpkin. He is about 6 feet tall with long, spindly legs and short stick-like arms. Interestingly, he had on a K-State football jersey, old-school Nike tennis shoes, white pants and, perched on his massive head, a baseball hat with a Powercat. In one hand he had a large cup of coffee and in the other what looked like a campus map. His most striking feature was his huge purple pumpkin head. Since I have encountered other unique people around campus — which I have documented in previous letters — and have had interesting conversations, I thought I would share what we discussed. I have attempted to recollect the conversation, which went something like this:

Kirk: Good evening! It seems you have Cayenne a little excited (as she runs around him in circles nipping at his heels) and you look a little lost. Can I help you find something?

Great Pumpkin: (laughing) You're right, I am lost. People here are so friendly. I'm looking for Bill Snyder Family Stadium and am going to a football game. I heard they are great fun and can't wait to sit in the stands with the K-State students and cheer the Wildcats on to victory!

Kirk: I'm sorry, but we are not scheduled to play a game this weekend. You will have to come back another time. Didn't you check the schedule online?

Great Pumpkin: Good grief, have you ever tried to type with these hands? I was in town for Halloween and was hoping to take in a game. By the way, do you go to football games with that cute dog?

Kirk: I go to all of the home games and some of the away games, but Cayenne gets to stay at our home on campus. She chews on a bone and rests while we are at the stadium.

Great Pumpkin: Sounds like a lot of fun! Hey, I think I have seen you somewhere recently. Were you the guy in line at Varsity Donuts this morning? I have never seen anyone buying a dozen of the maple-bacon donuts before, much less eating several of them before leaving the store!

Kirk: That was me, and let's not tell anyone about the donuts. I also serve as the president of Kansas State University and get to attend many different campus events including football games.

Great Pumpkin: Wow, that sounds like a cool gig! You get to go to all of these football games for free and have people bring you food in your seat. That sounds like the good life to me!

Kirk: It is a fun part of my job, but football game days are important for our university. They are the only times during the year when we have more than 50,000 K-State supporters come to campus for a day to watch football, shop in town, walk through campus and visit with faculty and staff.

Great Pumpkin: (taking sip of his coffee) I am not sure what you mean. It sounds almost like a work day to me.

Kirk: Here is what my schedule was like for our season opening game against South Dakota:

  • 10:30 a.m. Speak with supporters and donors at the K-State Alumni Association. Met with a prospective student and her grandfather.
  • 11 a.m. Speak at Vanier Complex thanking supporters for helping make this facility possible. Great opportunity to visit with alumni and friends supporting athletics and academic programming.
  • 1:30 p.m. Watch K-State Volleyball match in Bramlage and meet with several prospective student-athletes and their families in town for the weekend.
  • 4 p.m. Ribbon cutting for Vanier Complex. Give brief comments about the need for great facilities in both athletics and academics.
  • 6 p.m. Kick off. We host more than 100 K-State alumni and friends in the university suite, including long time supporters, recent new donors and elected officials.
  • 10:30 p.m. Arrive back at Prez Rez, take two aspirin and head to bed.

Great Pumpkin: Wow! As Mel Brooks might say, "It is good to be the President!" I'm sure you were tired when the day was done. However, I am sure you have lots of help.

Kirk: There is a large team of individuals who work very hard every home football game. The entire senior leadership team, deans, department heads, staff from the KSU Foundation, K-State Alumni Association, Athletics and many more all work to connect with alumni and friends when they come to Manhattan. Many of our faculty and staff also are involved in showing alumni around laboratories, new facilities and in general showcasing K-State. Football games are university events that allow us to connect with huge numbers of alumni and friends in ways that wouldn't be possible without a nationally-recognized athletics program.

Great Pumpkin: (sipping coffee and looking at watch) Well, I have to go. By the way, are you going to see the new "Peanuts Movie" that is coming out in November? I hear it is going to be awesome!

Kirk: I enjoyed Peanuts when I was growing up, so I will probably go and see it!

Great Pumpkin: Gotta run and Go Cats!

I grabbed Cayenne and we headed back to the house. It's always interesting who you meet when walking around a college campus.

Until next month!

Go 'Cats!