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K-State Today

April 23, 2013



Fritchens continue the tradition of leadership with endowed leadership scholarship

By Hayli Morrison

To the right of Dave Fritchen's computer is a framed quote from Albert Einstein: "Try not to be a man of success but rather a man of value."

Many would argue the well-liked K-State professor has accomplished both. A first-generation college student from Council Grove, he earned a construction science and management degree from K-State in 1971.

"K-State means opportunity," Fritchen said. "I came here as a freshman wondering if I was going to make it … and I did."

Retired from a 21-year career with the Navy Civil Engineer Corps and the Navy Seabees, Fritchen has taught in the K-State department of architectural engineering and construction science since 1993. That included 14 years as department head and, currently, project coordinator for the design and construction of a new $40 million addition to the College of Engineering complex in support of the Kansas Legislature’s University Engineering Initiative Act

"One of the greatest rewards as a faculty member is being able to help students learn and grow and achieve great things in their career," Fritchen said. "Working with students and educating the next generation of leaders in our industry is reward beyond measure. You just can’t put a dollar value on that."

It may seem reminiscent of four decades earlier when the roles were reversed and the insecure freshman was on the receiving end of much-needed encouragement from K-State faculty and students. Fritchen credits his success to that support, as well as leadership within groups like Delta Upsilon fraternity, Associated General Contractors student chapter and Sigma Lambda Chi honor society.

That’s why Fritchen and his wife of 41 years, Kay (Harris), decided to establish an endowed leadership scholarship for the presidents of the student chapters of Associated General Contractors, or AGC, and the Architectural Engineering Institute, or AEI, in his department.

"We thought about giving a scholarship for a long time, but when Dave came up with the idea for supporting the leadership aspect that really appealed to me even more," said Kay Fritchen, a 1972 K-State family and child development graduate who was also involved in student life through Mortar Board, Phi Upsilon Omicron honor society and president of Delta Delta Delta sorority.

Whether on campus, in the military or in the home raising sons Scott (K-State ’98) and Steve, the Fritchens understand the importance of leadership and getting involved, and they have worked to instill that in future generations.

"Our hope was this scholarship would encourage more students to step up and engage in a leadership role," Fritchen said. "I think a lot of students assume they can just go through life without ever assuming any type of leadership role and that’s just not the case. They should not be afraid to step up."

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