Protecting food production

K-State couple honors two professors with investment in food animal research

Drs. Kelly and Marcie Lechtenberg, Oakland, Nebraska, have created the T.G. Nagaraja and M. M. Chengappa Excellence Fund in the College of Veterinary Medicine at Kansas State University.

This fund will support graduate student work and research in food animal medicine in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology, while honoring two K-State professors and researchers who are leaders in this field.

“This gift, and past contributions to the department from the Lechtenbergs, are vital in helping us maintain and build programs critical to our missions in teaching, research discovery and contributions to animal and human health,” said Dr. Derek Mosier, head of the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology. “The Lechtenbergs’ gift in particular helps support a wide variety of department needs, from infrastructure, student support, support of specific research projects and as an investment in the future of our training and research programs.

“This gift is also a great recognition of two long-time, dedicated and highly accomplished members of our department,” Mosier said. “Drs. Chengappa and Nagaraja have collectively more than 70 years of service to the department and university. The recognition is a well-deserved acknowledgement of their significant impacts on research in bacteriology and on undergraduate, veterinary and graduate student training. Kelly and Marcie have been strong and dedicated supporters of the department and college for years; we are thrilled they have chosen to recognize these two individuals as a mechanism for their continued financial and moral support for the department. The department and college have benefited greatly from the Lechtenbergs’ generosity in the past, and we greatly appreciate their continued commitment to helping us to achieve our teaching and research missions.”    

Dr. Kelly Lechtenberg received his doctor of veterinary medicine from K-State in 1987 and his doctorate in ruminant nutrition in 1988. Dr. Nagaraja was his major professor and Dr. Chengappa was a member of his graduate committee for his doctoral studies. Lechtenberg founded the Veterinary and Biomedical Research Center (VBRC), which helps design and conduct research that guides potential products through the FDA and USDA regulatory approval pathway for vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturers. In 2005, Lechtenberg was honored as the Alumni Fellow for the College of Veterinary Medicine. He currently serves on the advisory boards for several international animal health companies, and on the board of directors for several smaller biomedical and animal health companies.

Dr. Marcie Lechtenberg received her master’s in speech communications from K-State in 1986, a master’s in marriage and family therapy in 2012 and her doctorate in marriage and family therapy from the College of Human Ecology in 2014. She serves as the clinical director for the Couple and Family Therapy program in the College of Human Ecology at K-State.

The Lechtenbergs are members of the KSU Foundation board of trustees, and Kelly serves on the board of directors for the foundation.

“I was very fortunate to have such wonderful models of scholarship, integrity and mentorship during my time at K-State,” Kelly said. “Nag and Chengappa have always been amazingly generous with their time. They taught me the value of well-designed and carefully executed, purposeful research. They serve as the ultimate example model for how educators can mentor students. Marcie and I are happy to be able to help other students, to advance the science for food animal care and production and to honor our friends.”

 “The health and well-being of food-producing animals is an area of strength and focus in the Department of Diagnostic Medicine and Pathobiology,” said Dr. Bonnie Rush, interim dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Private funding to support research and graduate students is an unusual and special gift and will strengthen the department’s competitive advantage to obtain additional funding and recruit exceptional graduate students.  We appreciate the generosity and vision of the Lechtenberg family to support research and graduate education.”

As Kansas State University’s strategic partner for philanthropy, the KSU Foundation inspires and guides philanthropy toward university priorities to boldly advance K-State family. The foundation is leading Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas State University to raise $1.4 billion for student success, faculty development, facility enhancement and programmatic success. Visit for more information.

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