HAYS, KS -- At a campus news conference this morning, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, announced a gift of $100,000 from the Dr. Edward and Donna Stehno family of Hays. The Stehnos designated the gift for the construction of the FHSU Alumni & Endowment Center.
"At Homecoming in 1999, we announced the public phase of the $30 million Centennial Campaign with $15.2 million in commitments already in hand," Hammond said. "Now, just two years later, we have reached a total of $28 million."
A cornerstone project of the campaign is the FHSU Alumni & Endowment Center. The president said that the $4.5 million goal for the center has now reached $2.5 million in commitments.
"This generous gift is special as it comes from within the Fort Hays State family," Hammond said. "I want you to know that Ed and Donna did not request publicity for this gift. However, we asked their permission to hold a news conference. We believe it is important for others to know that the university family has a strong commitment towards this project."
Professor Stehno teaches in the Educational Administration and Counseling Department at Fort Hays State University and has had local business interests for many years. He has been with the university for 30 years. His wife, Donna, is a retired school nurse.
Dr. Stehno said that his family wanted to play a role in the development of this dynamic new facility on campus. His family had been blessed with good health and financial stability.
"The small financial token that we are giving to Fort Hays State," Stehno said, "is just a drop in the bucket compared to what the university has given the Stehno family. We will never be able to totally repay the university."
Stehno also credited the leadership of President Hammond for elevating the university in the eyes of the public, in terms of both the quality of its academics and its prestige.
Virgil Scott, president and CEO of the FHSU Endowment Association, said that the center will be a 25,500-square-foot facility that will provide offices for the FHSU Alumni and Endowment Associations. With the Stehno family gift and others, the association now has more than 50 percent of the funds needed for the construction of the center.
"This gift gives added meaning to the project's theme, A Place to Call Home," said Scott. "When Dr. Stehno and I first began visiting about the center, he expressed an interest in having a place where he could go in retirement and have a cup of coffee and visit with friends and colleagues. In recognition of the Stehnos, the room located on the first floor of the Alumni & Endowment Center will be named the Ed and Donna Stehno Family Room."
Bill Robbins, president of Farmers Bank and Trust in Great Bend and chair of the Centennial Campaign, also expressed appreciation to the Stehnos for their gift.
"This is a special time for Fort Hays State University as we celebrate Homecoming and our 100th anniversary," Robbins said. "While we are in reach of our goal, we are not there yet in terms of money or meeting the needs of the university."
Robbins spoke about the need also for scholarship dollars at the university to help students afford a degree in higher education. Another priority of the Centennial Campaign is the establishment of endowed chairs and endowed professorships. The state of Kansas has matching dollars available through the Faculty of Distinction program to help fund these endowments at Regents institutions to enhance faculty efforts.
For more information about the FHSU Endowment Association or details on how to donate, contact Scott at (785) 628-5620 or the association's director of planned giving, Ruth Heffel, at (785) 628-5888.