A letter from Greg Willems

Dear K-Staters,

Earlier this month, I celebrated my 100th day as president and CEO of KSU Foundation. It has been an exciting first few months in this new role, and my appreciation for the K-State family has grown in equal step with my enthusiasm for the university’s future. I’d like to reflect on some of my experiences during these first 100 days and what has inspired me.

Some of the best memories so far have been getting to know K-State alumni. Alumni like Dick and Mary Jo Myers, who just recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. I am inspired by their legacy of service and devotion to our country and their volunteerism, generosity and commitment to K-State. But my inspiration extends well beyond this incredible couple.

Whether enjoying Catbacker events in Dodge City and Garden City, visiting K-Staters in Kansas City, Wichita, Manhattan, Salina, Dallas/Fort Worth, Washington D.C., Boston, Chicago, New York City, or attending the Alumni Association board meeting here in Manhattan, one thing was clear: K-Staters truly “carry the banner high” no matter their location, no matter their role. This is the fuel that will allow K-State to become one of the top 50 public research universities in the country as we work together to advance the university through philanthropy for future generations.

Another group of K-Staters I’ve gotten to know over these first months is a remarkable group of new colleagues. Their passion and dedication to K-State runs deep. Whether it’s working with the staff at KSU Foundation, leaders on our three campuses or partners at the K-State Alumni Association and Athletics, I’ve been impressed with how tirelessly they work on behalf of the university every day. In particular, I want to recognize K-State’s leadership for their hard work during the last few weeks as we’ve faced very difficult budget situations. On Friday, K-State President Kirk Schulz announced that he will forgo his two percent pay increase and use it to support K-State staff. His leadership represents the sense of shared sacrifice and solidarity I’ve observed in many K-Staters and is a great example of the “One K-State” way.

Through difficult times, we continue to look to the future. Among the exciting aspects of our future is the growth on our north end of campus — referred to as our North Campus Corridor. I had the opportunity to attend the groundbreaking for the National Bio and Agro-defense Facility (NBAF) in May. With construction of this facility, we are starting to see the area become a magnet for academic and corporate partners looking to be in close proximity to cutting-edge research, as well as K-State’s technical innovation and talented students.

The KSU Foundation plays a role in the development of the north corridor area by leading the creation of the K-State Office Park. The Phase I building, which will open in October 2015, will not only provide the office space needed to sustain fundraising for K-State, it will also provide leasable space for corporations to engage students and faculty and gain research expertise. I’ve been able to tour this in-progress facility, and it’s inspirational to think of the potential and the partnerships that will flourish there. I believe innovative projects like these will allow the KSU Foundation to be a difference maker in helping K-State reach its goals for 2025.

These experiences have made my first 100 days incredible. And there is more on the horizon. Later this week, we will welcome the KSU Foundation’s Board of Directors, and I look forward to working with this wonderful group of K-State volunteer leaders.

Thank you for welcoming me into the K-State family and for helping to advance K-State through philanthropy.

Greg Willems
President and CEO
KSU Foundation

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