Investing in student wellness

Charlie and Debbie Morrison invest in student wellness initiatives across campus.

Charlie and Debbie Morrison, Southlake, Texas, have invested $10.2 million in student well-being initiatives at Kansas State University.

Mental health and overall well-being are important to the Morrisons, and with this investment, they are creating the Morrison Center for Student Well-being. The new center will oversee all aspects of student well-being campuswide.

“One of the Division of Student Life’s key strategic goals is to ‘champion students’ holistic well-being’,” said Thomas Lane, vice president for student life and dean of students. “The Morrison family’s generous gift will greatly help advance student well-being on campus through the creation of the Morrison Center for Student Well-being. The center will gather data to identify current issues impacting student well-being and be a centralized hub for promoting, coordinating and scaling up Student Life well-being programs, as well as help promote other campus wellness initiatives. Additionally, the center will serve as a home for ‘gatekeeper’ training for faculty, staff and students to recognize and refer students with a well-being concern and connect students to information and resources through a number of different engagement activities. This intentional approach to increasing student well-being at K-State would not be possible without the Morrison family’s dedication and commitment.”

The Morrisons additionally gave a generous gift to the Cats’ Cupboard, K-State’s food pantry. With this investment comes the naming of the director position, which will now be known as the Morrison Family Director of Cats’ Cupboard. Since its inception, Cats’ Cupboard has been a vital resource for K-State’s efforts in combatting food insecurity. In 2020, the food pantry served more than 9,400 K-State community members and increased the number of households served by 6% from 2019.

“The truly generous donation by the Morrison family helps ensure Cats’ Cupboard is here not only for today’s students, but for future generations of Wildcats,” Lane said. “This endowed fund will provide continual support for the work of Cats’ Cupboard leadership in identifying new and innovative ways to meet the basic food needs of our students and strengthen partnerships with our academic programs engaged in understanding and promoting food security.”

The Morrisons have also invested in K-State’s student athletes with a gift to help create space and programming for mental health and wellness services. The investment will enable more staff to be hired and provides funds for suicide prevention training, bystander training, research, mental health treatment and a biofeedback/performance lab.

“We are so appreciative of this generous gift from the Morrison family, which will greatly impact our student-athletes,” Athletics Director Gene Taylor said. “Mental health and wellness is a major focus for us as a department, and this contribution will allow us to provide more staff and services for our student-athletes in this important area.”

Aware that being a first-generation student to college carries its own challenges, the Morrisons have established a scholarship, using matching funds contributed by Otis and Wanda Gilliland, for first-generation students in the College of Business Administration.

“Supporting first-generation students is critical to our goal of providing access to K-State for all students. Twenty-one percent of the student body in the College of Business are the first in their family to go to college, so this is obviously an important category of student for the college,” said Kevin Gwinner, Edgerley Family Dean of the College of Business Administration. “Often first-generation families are in lower income categories and so find it harder to support children going on to four-year schools. However, with starting salaries for business students over $50,000 and college graduates’ lifetime earnings being three times the amount of a non-college graduate, it has never been more important for students to earn a college degree. The financial support from the Morrison scholarship will put the dream and reward of earning a college degree that much closer for these students.”

Charlie Morrison graduated from K-State in 1990 with a degree in management from the College of Business Administration, and Debbie attended K-State. Charlie is chairman and CEO of Wingstop Restaurants, Inc. Both Charlie and Debbie serve on the KSU Foundation Board of Trustees and have served on the K-State Parents and Family Association.  Charlie serves on the dean’s advisory council for the college of Business, and Debbie serves on the advisory board of the Cats’ Cupboard.

“Our gifts are to help students who are struggling, which is all students at some point. College is a big life transition, with stresses and pressure,” said the Morrisons. “These investments will provide students access to the assistance they need, while maintaining their dignity without scrutiny. K-State family supported us when we needed it, so we are paying it forward.”

“As awareness of the need to address overall well-being in our students has come to the forefront, we thank the Morrisons for their investments,” said President Richard Myers. “Students can’t succeed academically if they are struggling in other areas of their lives. Having a Center for Student Well-being to oversee all aspects of health and wellness for our students will provide an enormous benefit to our students and help them succeed.”

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. Visit www.ksufoundation.org for more information.

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Zach Hanood Senior Development Officer - Universitywide

785-775-2058
zachh@ksufoundation.org

Scott Jensen Assistant Director of Development - Universitywide

785-775-2078
scottj@ksufoundation.org