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Wefald Announces Retirement Plans

Monday, May 12, 2008

MANHATTAN -- Kansas State University President Jon Wefald announced today his plans to retire at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. Wefald has served as the 12th president of K-State since being appointed by the Kansas Board of Regents in July 1986.

Wefald is credited with transforming an institution with declining enrollments, low faculty morale, limited research and graduate programs, and a losing football program into a nationally ranked top 10 land grant university. Because of his leadership, K-State leads among peer institutions with significant research and graduate programs and a highly competitive athletic program in the prestigious Big 12 Conference.

Under Wefald's leadership, K-State has, among many other accomplishments, achieved the following since 1986:

  • Increased enrollments from 16,000 in 1986 to more than 23,000 students in 2008
  • Increased private giving from about $6 million in 1986 to close to $100 million in 2008
  • Increased competitive research from about $15 million in 1986 to more than $110 million in 2008 and overall research funding to more than $220 million in 2008
  • Constructed more than 2.2 million square feet of new buildings from 1986 to 2008 in an era of dramatically declining state and federal funding
  • During this era, three of the most beautiful buildings on the campus and in the state were constructed: a new library, art museum and alumni building
  • Played an important role in the creation of one of the most beautiful and clean college campuses anywhere in America
  • K-State ranks first among all 500 public universities from 1986 to 2008 with 124 Rhodes, Marshall, Truman, Goldwater and Udall Scholarships. (Penn State ranks second in the nation with 89 winners.)
  • K-State ranks second among all of the nation's land-grant universities between 1986 and 2008 with K-State professors winning two Carnegie/CASE U.S. Professor of the Year Awards, seven Kansas Professor of the Year Awards and two national silver medalists
  • Played an important role in helping K-State develop one of the best leadership academic programs in America — with about 1,300 students minoring in leadership studies
  • Developed a number of nationally-ranked athletic teams in the Big Eight and Big 12
  • Played a key role in the organization of the new Big 12 Conference in 1995-1996 and in K-State becoming a member of the Big 12

"I have been honored to be the president of Kansas State University for 22 years," Wefald said. "With the successful completion of our Changing Lives Campaign that raised close to $530 million, I feel this is an opportune time to retire and facilitate an orderly change of institutional leadership.

"Ruth Ann and I love K-State, its people and the Manhattan community and will always consider it home. Both our sons have degrees from K-State and live and work in Manhattan, and it is a great place for them to raise their families. We have been blessed to have had the opportunity to work with so many outstanding faculty, staff, students, alumni, regents and friends of the institution over these many years. I wish to publicly thank them for all they have done and will continue to do for K-State — they are the ones who truly make K-State such a great and special university."

Bob Krause, vice president for institutional advancement and director of intercollegiate athletics, longtime friend and colleague of President Wefald, said, "Jon Wefald came to K-State at a time when its definitive history was captured in the book 'Quest for Identity.'

"Jon has answered that quest for all time by building one of the top land-grant universities in America, and I know that K-Staters everywhere will be forever grateful for his passionate, tireless and visionary leadership. He has taught us all to have big dreams, work hard, and never give up... that will be his living legacy."

Upon his retirement, Wefald will be a part-time professor of leadership studies and history.

Before coming to K-State, Wefald served as chancellor of the State University System in Minnesota from 1982-86, a system with seven universities. He was president of Southwest State in Marshall, Minn., from 1977-82; Minnesota's Commissioner of Agriculture from 1971-77, and a member of the faculty at Gustavus Adolphus from 1965-70.

He earned his B.A. from Pacific Lutheran in 1959, his M.A. in history and political science from Washington State University in 1961, and his doctorate in history from the University of Michigan in 1965.

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