Major gift honors Robert 'Bob' Blum, brings FHSU Alumni & Endowment Center a large step closer

HAYS, KS -- Fort Hays State University announced today a gift of $100,000 toward construction of the FHSU Alumni & Endowment Center from Mary Lou Blum and her family. The gift is in honor of Blum's late husband, Robert F. "Bob" Blum, who was a legendary insurance agent in western Kansas.

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, announced the gift during a news conference on the university campus. The president thanked the Blum family for their generosity in bringing the planned center closer to reality.

" The FHSU Alumni & Endowment Center will be a facility that denotes vision for the future of the two associations, the university and its students. Its completion will bring a marketing component to the university from which it will benefit for many years to come," President Hammond said. "Most universities have such a center, but the FHSU Endowment Association and the Alumni Association are both located in inadequate facilities. This new Alumni & Endowment Center will greatly enhance the quality of service that our two associations can provide for the university."

The new Alumni & Endowment Center will be located near the university's convenient entrance on the U.S. 40 Bypass. An attraction of the new facility will be the 650 original artworks of the celebrated Kansas Postcard Series that recently were donated to FHSU by the Association of Community Arts Agencies of Kansas. The Alumni & Endowment Center will be an ideal home for the collection because it will be a gathering place for visitors to the FHSU campus.

" This gift from the Blum family takes our fund raising campaign to the $3.5 million mark," the president said. "We announced the project in February 2001. Since then, we completed a land swap between the university and the Endowment Association, with approval from the Kansas Board of Regents and the Kansas Legislature, and we have received gifts from 155 donors."

Virgil Scott, president and CEO of the FHSU Endowment Association, said the new home would be a tremendous asset in furthering the work of the association for the university. Scott introduced Mary Lou Blum and talked about the Blum family.

Mary Lou Blum is a former FHSU student who is a member of the FHSU Endowment Board of Trustees and serves on the association's Finance Committee. Bob Blum received two degrees from FHSU, a bachelor's in secondary education in 1951 and a master's in elementary education in 1956, and he was a member of the FHSU track team. He died in 1993.

" There are many stories I could tell about the legendary Bob Blum that have been told to me," Scott said. "Bob had an abiding interest in FHSU and attended every Homecoming. He was perhaps the single most loyal fan of women's athletics. Bob’s friends say that it seemed as though he knew almost everyone in western Kansas. He had the talent and gift to help people feel good. The impression that stays with me the most is that Bob was a giver. ‘The only thing they can’t take away from you is what you give away’ he would say. To the Blum family, we are thankful for their generosity and visionary support of the university and the Alumni & Endowment Center."

This was the second major gift from the Blum family. The first was a charitable remainder trust announced during the university's recent Centennial Campaign.

President Hammond concluded the news conference by thanking Bill Robbins, chair of the Centennial Campaign, for continuing to provide leadership in the fundraising effort for the Alumni & Endowment Center.

" Our goal is $4.8 million, so we are still $1.3 million short of what is needed," he said. "Now is the time for friends of the university to step forward and help with this worthwhile project. If all commitments are made by spring 2005, construction will be completed in 2007."

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