Former FHSU president passes away

Memorial services for Fort Hays State University's seventh president, Dr. Gerald W. "Jerry" Tomanek, will be held at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 3, at Penwell-Gabel's Funeral Home, 14275 S. Blackbob Road, Olathe, Kan.

Visitation will be from 2 to 4 p.m.

Tomanek graduated from FHSU in 1942 with a bachelor of science degree and in 1947 with a master's degree, both in botany. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, in 1951. He served as a Marine captain during World War II.

He began climbing the academic ladder at FHSU in 1947 as an instructor of biological sciences. He eventually became a professor, chair of the Department of Biological Sciences, chair of the Division of Natural Science and Mathematics, vice president for academic affairs and, in 1976, president. He served as president until his retirement in 1987.

"Jerry Tomanek was a teacher, a scholar and a leader of our university for a long time, and even in retirement he continued to provide advice and assistance to me that were invaluable," said Dr. Edward Hammond, FHSU president. "He will truly be missed."

In the classroom, Tomanek was one of the most admired professors to ever teach on the FHSU campus. His classes were both educational and enjoyable, but his warm and caring attitude is what most of his students remembered.

"He was the best teacher I have ever seen," said Dr. Gene Fleharty, professor emeritus of biological sciences. "He was fantastic in both the classroom and the field with his students."

His expertise on prairies and grasslands is known worldwide. He served as a consultant for Argentine farmers and ranchers, and for CBS television on a special program.

"He was a brilliant scholar, which earned him a national reputation as a grassland expert," said Bob Lowen, retired director of University Relations.

While serving as president, Tomanek laid the groundwork for moving FHSU ahead in computer technology by securing a large federal grant for upgrading campus computer facilities. He also led the charge to increase the institution's budget, helped increase the student scholarship program, enhanced faculty and staff salaries, saw three new buildings added to the campus, and presided over numerous other renovations.

"He was the most humane administrator I have ever had the opportunity to work with," said Dr. Jim Murphy, retired faculty member and administrator who served as provost and chair of the Department of Educational Administration and Counseling. "He never forgot that he was a faculty member."

After retiring from FHSU, Tomanek served on the board of directors for the Hansen Foundation, giving scholarships to many students from western Kansas. He also served on the FHSU Endowment Association Board of Trustees from 1987 to 1999, when he became an emeritus member.

Photo of Dr. Tomanek

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