Dr. Curt Brungardt in August became Fort Hays State University's second faculty member to fill a position created under the Regent's Faculty of Distinction Program when he assumed the position of Omer G. Voss Distinguished Professor of Leadership Studies.
Brungardt resigned his position as chair of the Department of Leadership Studies to take his new position. As the Voss Distinguished Professor, he will teach two classes a semester and also serve as the director of the Center for Civic Leadership, which includes such programs and projects as the Kansas Youth Leadership Academy, Tigers in Service, the American Democracy Project and service learning.
"I'm absolutely ecstatic," said Brungardt. "If you're a professor, this is the pinnacle of your career, to be selected for an endowed professorship."
Brungardt has been at FHSU since 1986, when he became assistant director of enrollment and admissions counseling. He holds two degrees from FHSU, a B.A. in political science and an M.S. in political science. He earned his doctorate in curriculum development and policy studies from Kansas State University in 1997.
"What's really exciting about it is the freedom it provides to be creative and to conduct research," said Brungardt.
He has been with leadership studies at FHSU since its inception in 1993 and was also on the committee that developed the program in 1992. Since then, it has grown from a program with 43 students to a full department within the university's College of Business and Leadership.
The Voss Distinguished Professorship was created in 2004 with a $300,000 gift from Omer G. Voss, a Phillips County native who earned a degree in political science from FHSU in 1937. Voss went on to a career with International Harvester, beginning as an employee in Hutchinson in 1936, working summers. After graduation, he accepted a full-time position in sales and manufacturing for the San Francisco office. In 1951, he joined International Harvester's overseas operation, serving as president of operations in Australia, Great Britain and Canada before returning to the corporate headquarters in Chicago in 1961. He retired as vice chairman of the company in 1979.
Under the Faculty of Distinction Program that was created in 2001, the Kansas Board of Regents will match the annual earnings of the $300,000 Voss gift.