Minnesota couple continues support of university's military and veteran affairs office
Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017
Duane Saunders, a retired colonel in the Army Reserves, and his wife, Bonnie, have given $225,000 to create the Colonel H. Duane Saunders Executive Directorship in Kansas State University's Office of Military and Veterans Affairs. | Download this photo.
MANHATTAN — Retired Col. Duane Saunders and his wife, Bonnie, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, have given $225,000 to Kansas State University's Office of Military and Veteran Affairs to create the Colonel H. Duane Saunders Executive Directorship.
This support will advance the university's work in serving military-connected students and veterans who are transitioning from active duty service to higher education, post-service careers and community engagement.
The Saunders, foundational supporters of Office of Military and Veterans Affairs' research and outreach, made the gift to provide administrative support to the executive director. This gift helps ensure Kansas State University continues to grow as a military-inclusive university and leader in developing evidence-based practices to encourage resilience and success among veterans pursuing a university education and civilian career.
"Because of Director Art DeGroat's enthusiasm and pursuit of excellence, K-State's Office of Military and Veteran Affairs has become a national leader in bridging the unique culture of military-connected students and veterans to the university and civilian workforce," Saunders said. "K-State has — with its committed leadership — taken a whole-of-university approach to welcoming veterans and helping them transition to their next life mission. Bonnie and I are pleased to continue our support of the university and the courageous people the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs serves."
"The transition from active duty to civilian career is a whole-life transformation," said Richard Myers, Kansas State University president. "It requires courage and a community who supports soldiers and their families as they navigate the terrain. Because of the inspired generosity of people like Duane and Bonnie Saunders, the K-State family is a unique and supportive community for all K-Staters."
Saunders was raised in Downs and graduated Kansas State University in 1961 with a degree in physical education from the College of Arts and Sciences. After graduation, he was commissioned into the Army and attended physical therapy school at the Mayo Clinic where he met his wife, Bonnie. Following active duty, Saunders transferred into the Army Medical Specialist Corps and served 20 years in the active reserves. In 1981, he earned a Master of Science in adult and occupational education from Kansas State University's College of Education. He also established a physical therapy business and health care company. Saunders retired from the Army Reserves in 1995.
Saunders serves as a Kansas State University Foundation trustee and is an Alumni Fellow of the College of Arts and Sciences. The Saunders are dedicated Kansas State University supporters with contributions to the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, the Saunders Barracks, an endowed Saunders Military Excellence Fund, the Saunders Sports Medicine Center in Vanier Family Football Complex and campus scholarships. They also are lifetime members of the K-State Alumni Association.
"Duane Saunders was my first mentor and consistent donor in support of the Office of Military and Veterans Affairs," DeGroat said. "Military service, with properly supported transition, can turn a life around. Duane and Bonnie change lives as they partner to assist post-service soldiers and their families effectively renegotiate their places in American society."
The Office of Military and Veterans Affairs makes a true difference, according to a recent Kansas State University graduate.
"As a student, I had the opportunity to work with Office of Military and Veterans Affairs, and it prepared me for my professional life after the military," said Richard Pearson, a 2017 bachelor's graduate in marketing. "After moving to K-State, I realized how impactful my enlisted military experience was. It did not shape me as much as primed and prepared me to take on and execute tasks with confidence. People like Duane and Bonnie — great alumni — support K-State in developing veterans as leaders."
As Kansas State University's strategic partner for philanthropy, the KSU Foundation inspires and guides philanthropy toward university priorities to boldly advance the university family. The foundation is leading Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas State University to raise $1.4 billion for student success, faculty development, facility enhancement and programmatic success. Visit www.ksufoundation.org for more information.