September letter from Greg Willems

There is nothing more electric than the beginning of football season in a college town. This sense of anticipation breathes new life into the community as we all look forward to another winning season. It’s a feeling that permeated Bill Snyder Family Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 5, when the Wildcats returned the opening kickoff for the first touchdown of the season!

But here in Manhattan, and on our campuses in Salina and Olathe, the excitement and anticipation extends far beyond our team’s performance. It’s excitement about the university’s future that drives us forward each day.

If you have been following the KSU Foundation on Twitter or Facebook, you’ve probably noticed that it’s been a season of celebrations here at K-State. From the ground breaking on the Seaton Hall Complex to the grand opening of the Vanier Family Football Complex, the first football weekend provided great examples of what philanthropy can accomplish when K-Staters dream big together. In Kansas City, we celebrated as K-State’s Interim Dean of K-State Olathe Dr. Ralph Richardson received the Iron Paw Award from the Kansas City Animal Health Corridor. In Denver, we celebrated with almost 300 K-Staters at the second annual Wabash CannonBall Colorado. We even celebrated at the KSU Foundation when K-State was recognized nationally by the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for overall fundraising improvement.

While it’s been a season of celebrating, it’s also been a season of preparation. I had the privilege of attending the annual planning retreat with K-State Student Foundation members to offer an update on activities and changes underway at the Foundation. More importantly we talked about K-State Proud’s role in expanding and elevating philanthropy at K-State. I continue to be impressed by this group of student leaders and applaud their commitment of discretionary time to help out fellow students. The foundation is also very proud to be participating in the All-University Campaign. Two of our outstanding staff, Cathy Barr and Eric Holderness, are serving as internal co-chairs and we will be relying on them to rally their KSU Foundation colleagues and continue our tradition of 100 percent staff participation nine years running. I also recently enjoyed participating in an advisory council and fundraising retreat meeting with our dedicated alumni on the College of Business Administration Advisory Council. With every meeting, one thing is clear: K-Staters’ passion for advancing K-State through philanthropy will reach new heights this year.

Sept. 18 is going to be a very special day at K-State. I can’t wait to see Dr. Frank Tracz and the marching band students receive recognition for the Sudler Trophy at our dinner event on Friday and at the half-time presentation this Saturday. Being recognized as the nation’s best in any endeavor is special. However, this national acclaim is extra special as it recognizes an iconic part of our identity as a university and the heartbeat of our K-State nation in so many ways. This event will celebrate the commitment, dedication and excellence of more than 400 of our students and an exceptional leader in Dr. Tracz. Through 23-plus years of hard work, sacrifice and dedication, Dr.Tracz has shaped our band into a national power and reached the pinnacle of achievement in his profession. Please join me in congratulating Director of Bands Dr. Frank Tracz, Assistant Director Don Linn, staff, students and all alumni through the years who have built the K-State Marching Band into a nationally recognized ensemble. In conjunction with these events and to ensure that we maintain this level of national acclaim, we have been working with Dr. Tracz over the past few months to increase support for the band through an endowed directorship, scholarships and awards for students and excellence funds for equipment, travel and uniforms. These gifts will supplement the band’s operating budget, which is funded in part by the Office of the President, the College of Arts and Sciences and K-State Athletics. We will be announcing giving opportunities formally at the evening event on Friday.

I’m also looking forward to October, when we will launch Innovation and Inspiration: The Campaign for Kansas State University. This $1 billion campaign will advance K-State toward its goal of becoming a top 50 public research university by the year 2025. Watch for more information in the coming weeks about this important milestone in K-State history!

Thank you for all you do for K-State, and GO CATS!

Greg Willems
President and CEO
KSU Foundation

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