Strike up the band

Former K-State band member supports brass players

As an out-of-state K-State student in the 1950s, Rod Cole was able to work his way through college, graduating with very little debt. However, he doubts students today would be able to accomplish that feat. That’s one of the reasons he and his wife, of Beverly Hills, Fla., are using part of an inheritance to create an endowed scholarship that will benefit students for generations to come.

Cole played the French horn in K-State’s marching band, concert band and orchestra. The Rodney and Lois Cole Scholarship for Brass will be awarded to a K-State student enrolled in any curriculum who plays a brass instrument in any of K-State’s bands.

Although Cole was from Connecticut, his father, who had received his degree from Emporia State, encouraged his sons to attend college in Kansas as he thought he’d get the best education for his money. Cole chose K-State, majoring first in agriculture, then changing to radio, TV and speech. “At first, I was not a real serious student,” Cole said. “What kept me going in college was playing in the band. I enjoyed that more than anything else. So I owe my early college education persistence to being in the band.”

Cole went on to earn his master’s in communications at K-State and later a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. He spent his career teaching public speaking and organizational communications and coaching the debate team at the University of Maine.

Cole hopes his scholarship encourages other musicians to create scholarships for their instruments, helping students and K-State in the process. “I think the cost of education has gone too high, so if you can do a little cutting into the students’ costs, that helps,” he explained.

Support for students through scholarships is a key factor in K-State becoming a top 50 public research university by 2025. Alumni such as Cole are helping K-State meet this transformational goal.

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