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K-State Today

May 14, 2012

The Stephen and Ruth Dyer Family Scholarship

Submitted by Andrew Zender

Stephen and Ruth Dyer are members of the KSU Foundation President's Club and 1863 Circle as well as lifetime members of the K-State Alumni Association.

Stephen Dyer and Ruth Geis met on a mountaintop in New Mexico. An instant connection was made, and a week later, he went his way back to Kansas and she to Oklahoma. One year later, they were reunited when her father became a pastor of the church Stephen's family attended in Topeka. The romance blossomed and they were soon married.

Forty-four years following their first encounter in the clouds, the Dyers enjoy their life together in Manhattan, a town they had only planned to stay in "for a few years, before we turned into lifers." Both work at K-State; he as a professor of electrical and computer engineering, she as the senior vice provost for academic affairs.

Since they began their life together in college, their academic and professional careers have taken them from Kansas to Kentucky and back again, teaching, studying and earning a combined six degrees along the way, five of which came from K-State. And it was the small-town feel with big opportunities that spurred the engineers-in-love to choose Manhattan — and K-State — as the place where they'd build a family, their careers and their legacy.

With a $25,000 pledge, the Dyers established the Stephen and Ruth Dyer Family Scholarship, which will be permanently endowed to provide future generations of engineering students the opportunities to attend K-State and take advantage of the same offerings that inspired the entire Dyer family to strive for success in all of their pursuits.

Stephen Dyer views higher education as the gateway to living, a period of transition when a student achieves incredible growth as an individual.

"The experiences one has in college allows one to mature and gain new outlooks on life, so much that it can end up creating an entirely new individual," he said. "This scholarship allows us to do our little part in sharing some of that opportunity with someone."

"To me, an institution like K-State is a place of hope, especially for people who may not know what they want to do, or people who may not have the opportunities, background, network or resources," Ruth Dyer said. "This is a place where you can come have your life changed. That's what makes me want to come to work every day, to assist someone in realizing their dreams."

When they found themselves in the position to be able to make a significant contribution to the university and examined their options, it was an easy decision for the Dyers to establish an endowed scholarship. After all, they and their sons all attended college with the assistance of scholarships and deeply value the people who helped shape those experiences.

Even after growing up in Manhattan and entertaining the prospect of going to college outside of the community in which they were raised, their sons Justin and Christopher also couldn't resist the charm of K-State and earned degrees here.

"People invested in us, and now we're continuing that investment," Stephen Dyer said. "Those beneficiaries may in turn do something in the future to change other people's lives, and suddenly our investment has the potential to affect more and more lives as time goes on."

"We thought about the people who were really influential in our own lives: teachers, faculty and others whom we met and worked with in higher education," Ruth Dyer said. "Having the opportunity to help students have that same experience — it doesn't get any better than that."