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Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President

From the Provost's Desk

What a week! What a launch! What a time of inspiration!

October 19, 2015

Dear Colleagues,

After five years of planning and hard work, a comprehensive campaign for Kansas State University was kicked off a little over a week ago. Innovation and Inspiration is the name of this eight year campaign to raise $1 billion for Kansas State University — for our students, for our faculty and for new physical facilities. Prematurely tweeted Thursday night by a novice Twitter account holder (me), the campaign (in its quiet stage) has already secured $766 million and change! We have three years of campaign to go, we just got loud, and we are set to succeed.

Captain of this campaign, President Schulz has been front and center communicating the shared vision of this university to individuals, companies, foundations and alumni all over the world. Kansas State will be changed, truly transformed, by the dollars this campaign attracts. So many have contributed: Foundation fundraisers, deans, department heads, Athletics staff, our incredible volunteers led by Dick and Mary Jo Myers and Rand and Patti Berney, and our amazing donors. Quite the team!

What does this campaign represent? Innovation and Inspiration for faculty, staff and students — that's what is represented in this campaign. Let me just tell you some highlights and stories from the weekend launch that truly inspired me.

Thursday evening in a transformed purple Great Room of Hale Library, we heard emcee Endowed Chair Greg Eiselein introduce former student Reagan Kays, back from George Washington Law, to talk about how his undergraduate experience here inspired him to take study abroad opportunities, lead student government, and graduate with honors. We heard Ralph Richardson discuss having the time of his life as the interim CEO of the Olathe campus finding synergy with the Kansas City area. We heard Developing Scholars Yubisela Toledo and Michael Zuniga talk about being Edgerly Franklin Urban Leadership Scholars and the inspiration they found in having opportunities such as going to Boston to see business leaders. We heard Darrington Clark share his story about being able to stay in school to finish his senior year because of the opportunities given to him with scholarships. Innovation and Inspiration.

Ten new endowed chairs were introduced at the recognition of endowed chairs and professorships luncheon Friday. We also got to hear a donor, chair and student talk about their respective experiences. Jim Johnson talked about deciding to support a chair. Kimberly Kramer talked about having that chair and what it allowed her to do. Student Sam McConnell related his experience working with Kimberly in an undergraduate research experience. Innovation and Inspiration.

I am not done yet! Friday evening, in a packed McCain auditorium, we came together and heard how K-State inspires students and faculty through their music, poetry, and stories. We heard a poetry reading, "A K-State Education" by Catherine Strayhall and read by Rachel Hunt, accompanied by a piano composition by Blake Cordell performed by Amanda Krieg on one of our Steinway pianos. We heard the stories of Jordan Thomas and Kenzie Wade, two students in Michael Wesch's 2014 Digital Ethnography class, and what they learned living with the Meadowlark Hills retirement community here in Manhattan. We watched their moving video "To Live in this World," and yes, I cried yet again — I cried the first time I saw it! We were cheered and inspired by the stories of our two student emcees, Darrington Clark and Rebecca Jenkins as they shared how they were touched by scholarships, study abroad experiences, and key faculty. We were even treated to a fanfare composed by Laurel Littrell, "Vision 2025: Carry Thy Banner High." I bet that's a first for a university strategic vision! Innovation and Inspiration.

When we exited McCain still warm from the stories, music and mood, the marching band flanked us as we walked into the land of purple on the transformed lawn in front of Anderson Hall. The university emblem and the Innovation and Inspiration logo projected in white on purple buildings. I don't know how it was done, but it was magical. I loved it. Many asked for it to stay a permanent fixture of the night sky.

It was perfect K-State. Stories, pictures, readings, music, all captured by wonderful students and committed staff and faculty. Purple everywhere.

But wait, there's more! Saturday at the football game our campaign co-chairs took to center field with team captains before the game celebrating the launch. At half time, the Kansas State University Sudler award-winning marching band spelled out INSPIRE on the full 100-yard field. I was. I was inspired by the whole three days. I was inspired by our impressive students, top-tier faculty, incredible staff, and our amazing donors and alumni who shared the joy together and make this purple magic place work.

Now on to $1 billion and the celebration of a completed comprehensive campaign. Innovation and Inspiration, you bet!

Thank you for all you do!

April C Mason signature

April Mason
Provost and Senior Vice President


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