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K-State Today

May 6, 2020

Kansas farmer who donated mask to NY receives overdue degree from K-State

Submitted by Communications and Marketing

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly speaks as part of degree presentation

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly and Kansas State University President Richard Myers presented a long overdue college degree to Dennis Ruhnke, the Troy, Kansas farmer who sent the N95 mask to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Ruhnke received a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture from Kansas State University on May 5 in Topeka.

"Along with his fantastic demonstration of kindness and generosity, Mr. Ruhnke’s academic work at K-State in his chosen field of agriculture qualifies him to receive his degree," Myers said. "Kansas State University is proud to officially recognize Mr. Rhunke as an alumnus and valued member of the Wildcat family."

Ruhnke attended K-State in 1967 until his father died in 1971. He was two credit hours short of his degree but chose to return home to take care of his mother and family farm. He never finished his degree, which he has said is his biggest regret.

Administrators in the College of Agriculture reviewed his transcript and four decades of experience and have approved his work for the degree, which would have been awarded in December 1971.

"Dennis' donation, at the height of our country's protective gear shortage, showed us the best in humanity when we needed it the most," Kelly said. "I would like to thank Dennis for the example he's set on how to serve and how to be thoughtful and generous in an extraordinary way."

*Photo courtesy of Kansas Office of Governor Laura Kelly.