Longtime university supporters establish chair for director of the School of Leadership Studies

Mary Lynn and Warren Staley, Avon, Colo., have made a gift of more than $2.5 million to establish an endowed chair for the director of the School of Leadership Studies at Kansas State University.

Warren Staley earned a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Kansas State University in 1965. He went on to receive a master’s degree in business administration from Cornell University in 1967. He had a long and successful career at Cargill, retiring in 2007 from his position as CEO and chairman of the board. Staley is in the university’s College of Engineering Hall of Fame and a member of the college’s Seaton Society Foundation.

Mary Lynn Staley graduated from Kansas State University in 1965 with a degree in elementary education. She was very involved on campus and after graduation, continued her work as a philanthropist and volunteer. She currently serves on the international Habitat for Humanity board of directors.

The Staleys have been major benefactors to the university for various academic programs, scholarships and facilities improvements across campus. They provided a leadership gift to build the Leadership Studies Building and are members of the Kansas State University Foundation’s Presidents Club, a philanthropic leadership organization for friends and alumni of the university.

Mary Hale Tolar, director of the School of Leadership Studies, is the first recipient of the Mary Lynn and Warren Staley Chair for Leadership.

“We are more than thrilled that someone of the stature of Dr. Mary Tolar will receive our chair for leadership,” Warren Staley said. “We applaud Mary’s vision and believe that her leadership will continue to attract talented faculty to both further enhance the school’s growing national reputation and expand its mission.”

Tolar said that this endowment will allow her to seed and launch key initiatives in the school’s 2025 plan to help Kansas State University become a Top 50 public research university.

“This is an extraordinary investment in our work by Mary Lynn and Warren Staley and represents their confidence based on past performance as well as the promise they see in the School of Leadership Studies and the significant work we have ahead of us,” Tolar said. “It is an honor to hold a chair named for two people who are the very models of the leadership we seek to develop in our students and exercise as professionals and citizens.”

“Warren and Mary Lynn Staley continue to build on the legacy they are leaving at K-State,” said Kirk Schulz, university president. “By endowing a chair for the director of the School of Leadership Studies, they are helping to ensure the success and national reputation of our innovative program and move K-State toward achieving our goal of being a Top 50 public research university by 2025. Endowed faculty positions allow us to recruit and retain exceptional people. This gift builds on all the other support they’ve given the university to reinforce the success of students, faculty and the university as a whole.”

Philanthropic contributions to the university are coordinated by the KSU Foundation. The foundation staff works with university partners to build lifelong relationships with alumni, friends, faculty, staff and students through involvement and investment in the university.

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