In a scene vaguely reminiscent of christening an ocean liner with a bottle of champagne, students placed the first official Fort Hays State University state license tag on the president's car this morning.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president, and Debra Prideaux, director of alumni/governmental relations, watched as a group of FHSU students unveiled the new tags by placing one on the president's car during a ceremony in front of Sheridan Hall.
The new license tags will not only launch a fleet of more than 500 vehicles that show Tiger pride by displaying the university's official version of the Kansas state license tag, but the program also provides a source of new scholarship money for FHSU students.
In 1994, the Kansas Legislature approved a special version of state license tags to generate scholarship funds for Kansas Board of Regents universities. Each university's version of the special tags contains not only routine license tag information but also a colorful symbol of the school. The FHSU tag bears the likeness of the school mascot, Victor E. Tiger.
The new license tag program had a trigger, however. Before distribution could begin, a university had to secure at least 500 reservations for its special tag. The FHSU Alumni Association launched the tag program in the summer of 2001, and with the assistance of a group of students, completed the project this month. The students took it on as a project for their class, Field Work in Leadership Studies, at the beginning of the spring 2003 semester. The team included Christina Davidson, Claflin junior; Missi Eck, Colwich senior; Jaci Olson, Haigler, NE, sophomore; and Bindhu Madathil, Liberal special student.
Aided by an anonymous donor, the four students quickly achieved their goal. As of this week, 504 tags had been reserved by members of the Tiger community, and the order has been confirmed by the Kansas Department of Motor Vehicles in Topeka.
This special version of a personalized tag costs more than regulation Kansas state tags, but most of the cost goes to scholarships. The cost of the special tags can seem complicated, but it is easy to understand when broken down into three categories. First, the state charges the basic fees that are charged for regulation license tags. Those fees vary according to the type of vehicle. Second, the state charges an extra fee of $45.50 for making the special tags, which remain on a vehicle for five years. Therefore, the $45.50 fee computes to less than $10 a year. Third, an annual donation of $30 to the university is required for each of the five years. The donation, which goes directly into the FHSU scholarship fund, is tax deductible.
So, in short, the extra cost for having an FHSU license tag is less than $10 a year, plus a donation of $30 a year for the scholarship fund.
All FHSU students were given the opportunity to sign up for the program with a special incentive provided by the anonymous donor. The donor paid the tag issuance fee and the first-year scholarship donation for all students who reserved a tag.
The Leadership Studies group, working with the Alumni Association, aggressively promoted that incentive program and publicized the special tag program through brochures, on the Web and at university events.
Everyone who owns or leases a vehicle in the state of Kansas and who supports Fort Hays State University is invited to participate. To reserve a tag or for more information, contact the FHSU Alumni Association at 628-4430 or toll free at 1-888-351-3591. As a bonus, the Alumni Association will provide a free decorative Tiger tag for the front of the vehicle for each special tag that is purchased.
The special tags are scheduled to arrive at county courthouses throughout Kansas within 60 days. The Alumni Association will contact everyone by mail who has reserved a tag. Those individuals should verify current vehicle information, and they will receive a certificate showing that they have paid the first year scholarship donation. That certificate can be redeemed at the license tag office when they pay remaining fees and pick up the new tag. The Alumni Association also will contact students who have reserved a tag under the donor-sponsored program.
Established in 1916, the FHSU Alumni Association is dedicated to identifying and serving the needs of more that 36,000 graduates living in 50 states and 61 foreign countries. A 26-member Board of Directors is the governing board that sets the policy and direction of the association in developing lifelong relationships between the university and its alumni and friends.
Note to editors/news directors: A color photo of the new Tiger tag can be downloaded from the FHSU Web site at www.fhsu.edu/univrel/logo.shtml.