A former graduate of Fort Hays State University announced today, alongside his wife, that they were leaving a major gift to the university.
Richard "Dick" Selensky and his wife, Pat (Redden) Selensky, Shawnee, joined the Wooster Society at FHSU today. They pledged a portion of their total estate to the FHSU Foundation in support of scholarships for the Kansas Academy of Mathematics and Science. The gift puts them at the Diamond Pin level in the university's Leadership Circle.
Dick Selensky was born and raised in the town of Park in Gove County, and he earned a bachelor’s degree in Technology Studies in 1956 and a master’s degree in Education Administration in 1963, both from FHSU.
"I initially dreamed of joining the Air Force as a pilot, but my mother would not hear of it," he said during a news conference today on the FHSU campus. He said admiration of his high school basketball coach, the late Rufus Jamison, also helped to spark his interest in education. Jamison was also an FHSU alumnus, graduating in 1937.
Dick Selensky described his college years as a busy time. He first worked in the dining hall at Custer Hall for a penny a minute. Later, he worked at a Hays frame shop for a dollar an hour. He was a member of Phi Sigma Epsilon fraternity, and he participated in intramural sports with his fraternity brothers. He also was a yell leader and spent many hours studying. He often worked two or three jobs at once, and the work ethic that he forged in his college years never faltered.
During the news conference to announce the gift, Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president, talked about the desire of the couple to support KAMS with scholarship funds.
"They want to leave a legacy of education assistance to future generations of Kansans," President Hammond said of the Selenskys. "Dick enjoyed a 36-year career as a Kansas educator, helping America's youth be the best they could be. Now he and Pat look forward to their positive impact and perpetual assistance for some of our best and brightest students."
Dick Selensky began his career in education in his hometown of Park at the encouragement of his uncle, Adam Selensky, who was on the local board of education. After completing his bachelor's degree at FHSU, Dick went to work for Halliburton Oil but was persuaded by Uncle Adam to take a pay cut and give teaching a try.
"I was glad I took my uncle’s advice," he said. "I found teaching to be rewarding and had fun working with the kids in Park."
Two years later he moved to Walker, where he taught sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. As the 1960s began, it was back to Hays to teach some of the most "brilliant students" he would encounter before eventually settling in the Kansas City area. From 1963 through 1970, he taught at South Park, Rushton and East Antioch Elementary, eventually serving for 22 years as principal at East Antioch Elementary School in the Shawnee Mission School District. He retired in 1993.
Pat Selensky enjoyed a 43-year career in the financial industry. The first 25 years were in banking in Oklahoma and the last 18 years were with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. She retired in June 2000.
"We are grateful for the generosity and the trust that Dick and Pat have shown toward KAMS. Gifts of this nature will allow us to reach even more Kansas youths who have the desire and ability to lead our state forward for generations to come," FHSU Foundation President Tim Chapman said at the news conference.
Chapman noted that Dick and Pat Selensky were now among the generous and visionary individuals in the Wooster Society who ensure the strong future of the university and the education of western Kansans.
Named for the fourth president of Fort Hays State University, the Lyman Dwight Wooster Society honors individuals who arrange gifts to the FHSU Foundation through planned giving. "The tradition of President Wooster's spirit is still strong within the friends and alumni of Fort Hays State University, especially those who are members of the Wooster Society," Chapman said.
Ron Keller, director of KAMS, also spoke during the news conference and told Dick and Pat Selensky he would be eternally grateful for their generosity. "This gift is a huge beginning to making dreams come true," he said. "We have always had visions of being able to have scholarship monies available so that none of our state's 'best and brightest' students would have to forgo attendance at KAMS for economic reasons. Dick and Pat's major gift will allow the reality of attending for many future students. They are creating a legacy that will positively impact the lives of future KAMS students forever."
Elizabeth "Libby" Lewis, a high school senior, is attending KAMS while concurrently enrolled at Lawrence Free State High School. She is the daughter of Jeffry and Christine Lewis, Lawrence.
"On behalf of KAMS students, I want to thank the Selenskys for their generous donation," she said. "The scholarship dollars made available through their gift will allow students from various socioeconomic backgrounds to take part in the academy experience. KAMS is a fantastic opportunity for students to achieve their dreams. This donation is a tremendous step in making educational excellence available to a wide spectrum of Kansas students."
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 FHSU may call the Foundation at 785-628-5620 or go online at http://foundation.fhsu.edu/. More information about the FHSU Leadership Circle is available at http://foundation.fhsu.edu/donor_recognition/leadership_circle.php.