K-State Current

K-State Current - June 29, 2022

K-State Current is a weekly news update for the Kansas Board of Regents to apprise the Regents on a few of the many successes and achievements made by K-State faculty, staff, and students.

Purple Flowers and Bee

K-State News

A letter from President Richard Linton

Dear K-State community,

Richard LintonAs you all know, serving the state of Kansas — but more specifically, its people — is core to our land-grant mission. For me, a core component of this service is not only about contributing our knowledge and talents as a university — it's about intentionally matching up our expertise with the unique needs of those we serve and collaborating together to create stronger, healthier communities.

I say this as I return from a weeklong tour across parts of the state. I visited with numerous alumni and friends in many Kansas communities, and I learned more about the various needs these communities currently have. And let me tell you, I am inspired by how K-State can partner and help.

In my May 11 update to the university, I announced a new initiative in the works: a series of regional community visits to take place during the academic year. These visits will celebrate the university's partnership with communities across the state and create a framework for reaffirming relationships, strengthening our Extension and Engagement networks and increasing student enrollment. Additionally, they will give us an intentional opportunity to put our land-grant mission into action to build better lives for Kansans.

The core project team is starting to plan activities with our partners and stakeholders in nine areas of the state, with the intent of one visit each month during the academic year. I am also excited to share that we have welcomed home a familiar face as project manager for this initiative: Dr. Emily Lehning has joined the core project team to serve in this capacity. The project team includes:

  • Gregg Hadley, director, Cooperative Extension, co-team leader.
  • Tim Steffensmeier, interim director, Office of Engagement, co-team leader.
  • Lynn Carlin, special assistant to the provost.
  • Mirta Chavez, interim associate vice president, Diversity and Multicultural Student Affairs.
  • Jeff Ebeck, senior and vice president, Student Governing Association.
  • Karen Goos, vice provost for enrollment management.
  • Ashley Martin, interim vice president, Communications and Marketing.
  • Chuck Taber, provost and executive vice president.
  • Mary Tolar, dean, Staley School of Leadership.

The units represented by the core planning team are incredibly intentional:

  • Student enrollment is the heartbeat of our university, and we must show Kansans what we know to be true: The student experience here is second to none, and it serves as a springboard that lifts up future leaders to do engaged work across our state. No one is better suited to tell this story than our very own students, which is why we are forming a student team — Connected Cats — to lend the student voice to the planning and implementation of events.
  • Our engaged teaching and learning fuse together our academic and service missions, and cooperative extension gives us a presence in all 105 counties in the state. When we combine these together, we create an embedded knowledge and expertise network that no other university is positioned to offer to our state.
  • Finally, all of this great work is nothing without our ability to consistently communicate our efforts, as telling our story helps our communities understand how we serve them and how we contribute to a healthier, stronger Kansas.

As we charge ahead, I want to share that the first community visit, which will celebrate our support of and commitment to the Flint Hills region, is slated to take place Sept. 1. The first visit will be part of a series of activities celebrating K-State, including inauguration activities on Sept. 2 and the first home football game of the season on Sept. 3.

The project team is building on feedback gathered at the May 3 First Tuesday. You will hear more about the specific activities and ways to participate in the coming weeks as the team's work continues.

K-State has a long history of engaging fellow Kansans to tackle the most pressing problems and collaboratively pursue the best opportunities for a better future. We look forward to continuing this tradition with a renewed sense of passion.

Go 'Cats!

Richard Linton


New name for Staley School of Leadership Studies, Tolar named dean

Staley School of Leadership StudiesDear Colleagues,

At the June meeting, the Kansas Board of Regents approved a name change for the Staley School of Leadership Studies, now the Mary Lynn and Warren Staley School of Leadership.

The Staley School was founded as an independent academic unit reporting to the provost in 2009 and was named at that time for benefactors Mary Lynn and Warren Staley. From its start, the school has advanced the academic study and practice of leadership. In the beginning, the school's focus was an undergraduate leadership minor and service-learning taught primarily by non-tenure track faculty and staff. Today, the school develops and delivers both undergraduate and graduate interdisciplinary programs with faculty and staff now including tenured and tenure-track faculty. Beyond its academic programs, the school has also focused on developing leadership of students, faculty and staff, community members and industry partners; building capacity for community engagement and civic leadership; and contributing research and scholarship that strengthens our communities, state, nation and world and advances the public good. The new name reflects the expanded role and operations of the school beyond its academic leadership programs, including the additions of the university honors program, nationally competitive scholarships, and the university office of engagement that I announced last August.

In addition, I am naming Dr. Mary Hale Tolar dean of the Staley School of Leadership. Dr. Tolar has demonstrated exemplary leadership of the school and at the university level. As we advance engaged learning as a differentiating student experience for K-State students, the expanded role of the Staley School of Leadership as a central partner and Dr. Tolar's record of effective collaboration with our colleges and university partners will serve the university well. Moving to a structure with a dean will allow the Staley School of Leadership to continue to grow its academic programs and research agenda, raise its visibility and build its reputation to attract outstanding faculty and staff.

Together these changes position the Staley School of Leadership for greater service to our students, our university, and our communities.


Charles Taber
Provost and executive vice president


College of Education documentary to be distributed nationally

Becoming Trauma ResponsiveThe documentary "Becoming Trauma Responsive," produced by Kansas State University's College of Education, will be distributed nationally through a distribution partnership with KTWU and American Public Television.

After a successful premiere on Kansas and Missouri public television stations, the latest Kansas State University's College of Education documentary, "Becoming Trauma Responsive," is headed nationwide thanks to a distribution partnership with KTWU, the Topeka public television station, and American Public Television.

In August, more than 250 public broadcast stations across the country will start airing the program. It will be available in all 50 states.

"Becoming Trauma Responsive" details the changes two schools in Kansas and a preschool in Missouri implemented to meet the social and emotional needs of their students and staff because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics explored in the film include teaching self-regulation, identifying the stress response system, creating an environment that helps students overcome stress, developing a tolerance for change and establishing self-care routines for educators and caregivers. These techniques were substantiated by trauma experts who have spent decades working in counseling, therapy and neuroscience.

"For years, educators have sought out resources to become more trauma-equipped, but the pandemic has truly awakened the need for immediate support," said Debbie Mercer, dean of the College of Education. "Our sincerest hope is that this documentary — and the voices of professionals, some of whom are survivors of trauma themselves — provides direction for educators and caregivers, as well as inspires others to become teachers and school counselors."

Additional partners in the film are The Children's Place in Kansas City, Missouri; Foster Adopt Connect, serving foster families in Kansas and Missouri; Topeka Public Schools; and faculty at K-State, University of Missouri at Kansas City and Wichita State University.

"Investing in mental health is an investment in healthy communities,” said Tiffany Anderson, superintendent of the Topeka Public Schools. "We recognize that to truly support our mission, placing a priority on trauma-informed practices was critical. Our focus on social-emotional health has improved the lives of countless families across Topeka."

Visit becomingtraumaresponsive.com for more information about the film,as well as free resources for educators, caregivers and parents.


K-State Faculty Highlights

Chris Culbertson named interim dean for College of Arts and Sciences

Chris CulbertsonFollowing an internal search, Chris Culbertson, professor of chemistry and associate dean of research and graduate studies for Kansas State University's College of Arts and Sciences, will serve as interim dean of the college, effective June 20.

Culbertson was appointed by Charles Taber, provost and executive vice president, and will serve while a national search commences this fall. Additional search details will be announced at a later date.

"As a respected educator and researcher and with his experience in strategic management and college initiatives, Dr. Culbertson is well-equipped to serve as interim dean," Taber said.

As interim dean, Culbertson will be the chief academic and administrative officer of the college. He will be responsible for providing leadership, strategic vision and direction and support for the college, along with inspiring, guiding and facilitating a strong and diverse faculty in the advancement of high-quality teaching, research and service.

“I am excited and honored to be able to serve as the interim dean of the College of Arts and Sciences this next year,” Culbertson said. “We have tremendous and wonderful faculty and staff who are dedicated to student engagement and success through excellent teaching, advising and RSCAD mentoring. We also have an awesome student body at both the undergraduate and graduate levels who will someday help lead this country in many areas. I look forward to working with everyone this next year to help the college create a clear vision of its central and foundational place in a 21st century R1 land-grant university and set the stage for the future, permanent dean.”

Culbertson joined K-State in 2002 as an assistant professor. He was promoted to associate professor in 2008 and professor in 2018. He co-founded the Molecular Biosensing Diagnostics lab in 2017 and became associate dean in 2019. Culbertson serves as the principal investigator for the Department of Chemistry Research for Undergraduate Programs funded by the National Science Foundation.

With a long history of service to the university, Culbertson currently serves on the Office of Undergraduate Research and Creative Inquiry advisory committee, the University Budget Steering Committee, the Conflict of Interest and Conflict of Time and Commitment Disclosure and Management Plan Review Committee, Campus Planning and Development Advisory Committee and several college and department committees.

Culbertson has received many honors, including the Stamey Award for Undergraduate Advising in 2010 and 2013 and a National Science Foundation CAREER Award in 2006. He has authored more than 65 publications, journal articles or book chapters and has presented his work nationally and internationally. He also holds nine patents and has four patent applications pending.

His research interests are focused on developing novel separation and sample handling components for microfluidic devices and then using these devices to solve interesting bioanalytical problems with special emphasis in the areas of protein separations and single-cell analysis. This research is multidisciplinary and draws upon knowledge in the fields of chemistry, physics, engineering, cell biology and biochemistry. His work has been supported by grants from the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, NASA, Johnson Cancer Research Center and the Kansas Wheat Commission.

Culbertson holds a bachelor's degree in biology from Harvard College, a second bachelor's degree in chemistry from the University of West Florida, a doctoral degree in analytical chemistry from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and served as a postdoctoral fellowship at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.


K-State Student News

Powercat Motorsports competes at national Formula SAE event

Powercat MotorsportsPowercat Motorsports, K-State's Formula race team, competed at Formula SAE Michigan alongside 100 teams from universities all over the world, including Germany, Brazil and Canada, in a three-day event, May 18-21, in Brooklyn, Michigan.

The Formula SAE competition challenges teams of undergraduate and graduate students to conceive, design, fabricate, develop and compete with small, formula-style vehicles. It is an engineering education competition that requires performance demonstration of vehicles in a series of events, both off and on the track against the clock. Each segment of the competition gives teams the chance to demonstrate their creativity and engineering.

Powercat Motorsports is a student organization in the Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering. Kevin Wanklyn, teaching associate professor and undergraduate program director in the department, is the faculty advisor.

Vance Weber, senior in mechanical and nuclear engineering and Powercat Motorsports president and chassis lead, said the team solved several difficult design and mechanical issues in the month prior to the competition that caused the team to unite and work through adversity.

"Despite all of our issues, our team still performed at an extremely high level in Michigan against some of the best FSAE teams in the world," Weber said. "I'm proud that our team never gave up, and that no matter what, we found a way. I'm also especially proud of how beautiful our car turned out. In comparison to the other cars at FSAE Michigan, it was one of the best cars in terms of craftsmanship, fit/finish, manufacturing and sleekness."

The Powercat Motorsports team produced their fastest and most powerful car to date, where individual event highlights included fourth in acceleration, 14th in autocross and 23rd in skidpad.

"When we left the event, our team was confident we would return to the 2023 competition and finish inside the top 10," Weber said.

In addition to Weber, team officers involved in the competition from mechanical and nuclear engineering were Adam Meng, senior, chief engineer; Gage Weber, senior, aerodynamics lead; Anish Srivastava, senior, business lead; Eric Underwood, senior, drivetrain lead; Luke Reinsch, senior, electrical lead; Payton Lee, junior, engine lead; and Wyatt Haug, junior, suspension lead.

Other team members participating from mechanical and nuclear engineering include Ainslie Markle, senior; Jacob Decker, sophomore; Joseph Straub, sophomore; Nicholas Lake, sophomore; Ethan Gibbs, sophomore; and Ibrahim Al Qabani, master’s student; as well as, Audrey Werner, junior in industrial engineering; Alana Neel, senior in elementary education; and Ashton King, senior in computer engineering.

Students interested in joining the team or needing more information may contact the Powercat Motorsports incoming president Anish Srivastava at anishsri@k-state.edu.

"The opportunity for extending classroom material into a real-life counterpart is unmatched," Weber said. "Additionally, the opportunity to meet automotive and aerospace professionals is one that continuously puts our team’s graduates in those fields."

Powercat Motorsports thanks all of its supporters, including Kansas State University, the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering, the Alan Levin Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering accounting staff, Powercat Motorsports alumni, family, teaching associate professor Kevin Wanklyn, professor Steven Eckels, and donors. Important business sponsors include Spirit Aerosystems, Holley Performance, Globe Engineering, Park Aerospace, Dimensional Innovations, NIAR, Altec, Excel Industries, BMG of Kansas, Katalyst Wraps, Vortex and Lincoln Electric.




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