AT&T grant will provide computing equipment for FHSU's new Alumni & Endowment Center

When Fort Hays State University's new W.R. and Yvonne Robbins Alumni & Endowment Center opens this fall, it will be fully equipped with computer hardware and software to expand the Endowment Association's telemarketing efforts.

David Kerr, president of AT&T Kansas, presented a $49,160 grant to the university on Saturday morning that will provide for the purchase of the computer hardware and software.

"The Alumni & Endowment Center will take the university to a new level of excellence, and AT&T is pleased to be a part of this effort," Kerr said. "AT&T is proud to be a longtime supporter of Fort Hays State University. In 2000, the company endowed a $100,000 scholarship for students enrolled in the telecommunications program. And in 2003, AT&T contributed $50,000 to fund a computer lab for FHSU athletes."

The check presentation was part of the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce's first Eggs & Issues program in 2007, featuring Sen. Janis Lee, D-Kensington; Rep. Dan Johnson, R-Hays; and Rep. Eber Phelps, D-Hays. AT&T also sponsors the Eggs & Issues programs, which take place each year during the session of the Kansas Legislature.

Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, accepted the grant from Kerr on behalf of the AT&T Foundation, which is the philanthropic arm of AT&T Inc.

Since 1996, AT&T Inc. and the AT&T Foundation have contributed more than $439 million to nonprofit organizations across the country. With its strong giving record, the AT&T Foundation is among the five largest corporate foundations in the United States and was ranked by Forbes magazine among the most generous corporate foundations in 2006.

"AT&T has been a tremendous supporter of the university," President Hammond said, "and this gift will contribute significantly to our ability to meet the higher education needs of the citizens of Kansas."

The mission of the FHSU Endowment Association is to support and advance the university by actively seeking gifts and bequests, and then administering those contributions in a prudent manner and in accordance with the donors' wishes. Through the efforts of the Endowment Association, FHSU students receive nearly three-quarters of a million dollars in financial assistance each year.

"This gift from AT&T will allow the Endowment Association to expand its telemarketing efforts, which in turn will increase financial support for scholarships and for other university projects and activities," President Hammond said.

He explained that with the new computing capabilities, the Endowment Association's annual phonathon would be converted to an eight-station system that will operate throughout the school year. Callers will no longer depend on pre-printed pledge forms with dated information. Instead, they will have current information from a donor database available at their fingertips on the new computers.

"This will create a more personal connection with prospective donors," the president said. "Statistics show that phonathon programs see as much as a 60-percent increase in dollars raised when they move to a computerized system."

When it opens in September, the W.R. and Yvonne Robbins Alumni & Endowment Center will serve as "a place to call home" for FHSU's alumni and friends. It will house the Alumni and Endowment Associations and serve as a gathering place for many activities.

The Robbins Center has been in the works since fund raising began during the university's Centennial Campaign of 2002. Bill and Yvonne Robbins are owners of the Farmers Bank in Great Bend. Bill Robbins, a former board chair of the Endowment Association, chaired the campaign, which easily surpassed its goal of $30 million for a variety of programs and enhancements for the university.

The 27,500-square-foot Robbins Center will have two stories and a basement. The main floor will house Alumni Association offices, and the second floor will house Endowment Association offices. A reception foyer will open to a second-floor balcony. The building will have a 3,000-square-foot multi-purpose room with a full-service catering kitchen that can facilitate meetings and banquets of up to 250 people; a 625-square-foot boardroom and two conference rooms for meetings of the Alumni and Endowment boards and committees; a business center for visitors; and a communication room for telemarketing efforts in the basement.

On Saturday, Kerr also presented a separate check for $585 to the university. That was AT&T's matching gift for various donations that have been made to FHSU recently by AT&T's current and retired employees. AT&T makes those matching gifts to FHSU from time to time during the year.

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