Expanding Possibilities

Alumni couple supports students through gift to aid Phase IV expansion. 

Thayne Kraus has made a few good decisions in his lifetime, but his best decision, he says, was marrying his wife, Leona, during their sophomore year at Kansas State University.

“I made a good decision because I married a smart woman. She graduated summa cum laude,” he said of Leona, a 1955 K-State business graduate. “My wife has been a very important asset to me in my life and career.”

His management career took the couple around the globe as he worked for Union Carbide and Cardox Corporation, eventually retiring as president of U.S. operations for AirLiquide. Although he earned his degree in mechanical engineering in 1956, he credits his career path to the late Ralph G. Nevins, who was then assistant dean of the college.

“He generally directed me into a career path that was more sales and business-oriented, and fortunately I was lucky enough to rise in the business world,” Kraus said. “The engineering background really helped because the sales division was interacting with technical professionals continually.”

The Krauses are supporting today’s engineering students with a gift to aid construction of Phase IV, the 108,000-square-foot addition to the engineering complex on campus. Together they named two Thayne and Leona Kraus Teaming Rooms, which will provide designated space for students to work and collaborate together.

“If you’re going to attract qualified faculty and students to increase the level of research, I think having a nice facility helps that,” he said. “Of course, once you have the facility, then the work really starts in recruiting the faculty and getting the students that society really wants as employees.”  

Read more about how your gift can support the College of Engineering and advance the Innovation and Inspiration Campaign.

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Matt LaGree

Matt LaGree Director of Development - Education


Frank Cummings

Frank Cummings Director of Development - Arts and Sciences