GoodPlan: Bequest supports fund created by former students
By Hayli Morrison
Truly outstanding professors do more than teach. Their inspiration and influence can last for generations. Through travel and hands-on learning, geology students at Kansas State University continue to benefit from the lengthy and legendary career of a professor nearly three decades ago.
The Henry V. Beck Field Geology Fund makes it possible for many students to engage in field exploration, a cornerstone of the geology discipline. Established by alumni when Beck passed away in 1986, the fund covered all but minor incidental costs for students traveling to Yellowstone National Park in 2012.
"Had we been required to pay more, it would have been hard for a lot of us to go because it would’ve added up really quickly,” said geology graduate student Caleb Dodd, St. George, Kan.
The map and identification skills honed during the trip proved useful during advanced classes later on, he added. Those skills are also highly sought by employers, according to Dr. Matthew Brueseke, the associate professor who led the Yellowstone expedition.
Field study forces students to make observations, gather data and possibly make interpretations based on that,” he said. “A lot of employers think that type of experience is really important.”
The Beck Field Geology Fund is “an incredible resource” that many competing schools wish they had, according to Brueseke. "It’s a really huge help and I think it did make a difference in whether students were able to go or not,” he said.
Experiencing the volcanic region around Yellowstone was very enlightening, said geology graduate student Helder Alvarez, Dodge City, Kan. “To actually be there, feel the texture and look at the crystals in the rock, you absorb a lot more than just a picture in a textbook,” he said, adding appreciation for the alumni who give back to enhance his education. “As geologists, they know how important it is to actually get out in the field and see things for yourself,” he said. “You become a better geologist, and I appreciate that they understand that. It all reflects better on the university, too.”
Indeed, enhancing the student experience is a key priority in K-State’s strategic plan to be a top 50 public research university by 2025. It was also a key priority for Dr. Henry Beck. “Henry’s attitude was the more rocks you could see as a geologist, the better off you would be,” said Gene Ratcliff, a 1956 graduate who studied under Beck.
The Edmond, Okla., resident recently included in his estate plan a gift to the Beck Fund. He recalls spending six weeks with fellow students under Beck’s leadership in 1955, improving primitive grounds in Beulah, Colo., that would serve as K-State’s geology field camp for many years. Prior to that, the university had to team with other schools for field camp.
“I later realized he spent a lot of time and money to help us,” Ratcliff said, recalling how Beck would use his personal vehicles and fuel to take students on field expeditions in western Kansas. “I can’t emphasize how much of a teacher he was.”
How you can help
To learn more about how you can use your estate plan to enhance the student experience at K-State, contact the Gift Planning Department at 785-532-7531 or firstname.lastname@example.org.