Ed and Donna Stehno continue support for FHSU with pledge of a $1-million gift

A Hays couple who have long been supporters of Fort Hays State University announced today that they would give a major gift to the university.

Ed and Donna Stehno have pledged $1 million to the FHSU Foundation. The bulk of their donation will go for athletic scholarships.

"Donna and I have been truly blessed," Ed Stehno said. "We both have good health and true friends who we cherish. We grew up with parents who were not wealthy, but stressed a good work ethic. Having a good work ethic instilled in us as children has helped us to become financially independent. Donna and I felt it was necessary that we share that independence with mankind."

During a news conference this morning to announce the gift, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, talked about the relationship between the university and the Stehnos.

"Ed Stehno began teaching at FHSU in September 1971 and retired in May 2004 as a full professor in the Department of Education Administration and Counseling," the president said. "He is a true professional in all the very best meanings of that word, and he helped shape the careers of many teachers and administrators. But the relationship goes much deeper than just the professional dimension. Ed and Donna have been part of the Fort Hays State family for decades."

Ed and Donna Stehno served as national co-chairs of the Cornerstone Campaign, which was the largest capital campaign in the history of the university. The goal of the campaign was to raise $60 million, but when the campaign ended in June last year, nearly $69 million had been raised.

"Ed and Donna provided inspirational leadership in the Cornerstone Campaign," President Hammond said. "Now they are stepping up to help the athletic program and our students."

Stehno talked about factors he and his wife considered in making the gift of a million dollars: "We have always believed in giving and had a goal of giving a large gift to a worthwhile organization. There were four factors that we considered for choosing that organization. Number one, the organization would not waste our investment and the gift would be spent wisely. Number two, the organization would possess quality. It would be one we could be proud of and want to be associated with. Number three, the organization would not be stagnant. It would be on the move. And number four, the organization would be involved with youth since both of us worked with young individuals our whole lives. Donna was a school nurse, and I worked in education."

He said FHSU emerged at the top of the list especially because he and Donna wanted to assist young people. Accordingly, the majority of the gift from the Stehnos will be used for scholarships.

"We are grateful for the generosity of the Stehno family," Director of Athletics Curtis Hammeke said at the news conference. "Ed and Donna have been tremendous supporters of Tiger athletics for many years. They have served as ambassadors for our department through the highs and the lows that come with intercollegiate competition. Realizing these resources could be targeted in numerous other directions, it's a humbling feeling for the Stehno family to consider Tiger athletics and Fort Hays State University for such a gift."

Ed Stehno also shared a personal story about their decision to make the gift to FHSU: "On our 50th wedding anniversary, Donna and I took our three children and their families to the Bahamas to celebrate. While on our trip, they gave us the best gift anyone could ever receive. I still treasure that very moment. What was it, you may ask? They set up the Stehno Family Scholarship Fund at Fort Hays State University in our names. With that said, we are not going to wait. We are going to follow in our children's and their families' footsteps by making this gift. The last thing in the world that they would want is for us to be selfish and save this money for our own family members. Our three children and their families want us to share it with mankind, and we're proud to make this gift to Fort Hays State University!"

The Stehno family also will be honored at halftime of the FHSU football game on Saturday.

The Fort Hays State University Foundation is an independent, non-profit corporation designated by the state of Kansas to receive gifts on behalf of the university. Anyone interested in contributing to Fort Hays State may contact the FHSU Foundation at 785-628-5620.

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Kent Steward, Director   |  ksteward@fhsu.edu  |  Kurt Beyers, Assistant Director   |  kbeyers@fhsu.edu