HAYS, KS -- Gove County farmers and ranchers Richard and Florence Roemer were introduced at a news conference today to announce a half-million dollar gift to the Fort Hays State University Centennial Campaign, which has now reached $20.5 million, said FHSU President Dr. Edward H. Hammond.
The Roemer gift comes in two parts. One part is a cash gift of $100,000 to endow scholarships for residents of Gove and Trego Counties. The second part, an estate gift of $400,000, will endow a fund to support scholarships for athletics, agriculture, biological sciences, and health and human performance. It will also provide unrestricted funds for Forsyth Library.
"Children need help when they go to school nowdays," said Richard Roemer. He and his wife, Florence, are both graduates of FHSU.
"We went through it in hard times," he said, "and we know it's hard now."
He continued, "We want to help them as much as we can, and we want to help FHSU as much as possible."
"The Roemers, Rich and Florence, epitomize Fort Hays State University," said President Hammond.
"They invested in their own future by working their way through the university when they were young. Then they worked hard and were very successful, and now they are investing in future students of the university," said Hammond.
Hammond then announced that, with the Roemers' generosity, the Centennial Campaign has reached $20.5 million.
The goal is to reach $30 million by the university's centennial in 2002.
"It is people like the Roemers who, by supporting the Centennial Campaign, are helping Fort Hays State to step boldly into the future," he said. "The monies given to the Centennial Campaign are not just investments in the future of western Kansas and the university, but they are investments in the futures of an uncountable number of individual lives in our state, our region and our country."
Virgil Scott, president and CEO of the FHSU Endowment Association, introduced the Roemers. "This gift and commitment from Richard and Florence illustrates the strong feelings they have for their western Kansas heritage and Fort Hays State University," he said. "What a tremendous gift from tremendous people."
"The Roemers are dream builders," he continued. "By including the FHSU Endowment Association in their estate plans, they have ensured that the dream of attaining a degree will come true for many, many future generations of Fort Hays State University students."
The scholarship for residents of Gove and Trego counties will be named the Richard and Florence Roemer Scholarship. Preference for that scholarship will be given to students who show financial need. Preference will also go to students with average academic ability but who show initiative by helping to earn their education.
The first recipients will be selected for the 2001-2002 academic year.
The estate gift names the Endowment Association as beneficiary to an individual retirement account. When it is received, it will be endowed and the earnings will be distributed to the designated scholarship programs and to the support of Forsyth Library.
Dean Tony Fernandez thanked the Roemers on behalf of the College of Health and Life Sciences. "I can't think of a better way of investing in the future of Kansas than supporting education in this way," he said. "On behalf of the entire College of Health and Life Sciences and the untold number of students who will benefit from this generous gift, I extend my deepest gratitude to Rich and Florence Roemer."
"The Roemers have been friends of the university and the Athletic Department for many years," said university Athletic Director Tom Spicer. "They have been loyal supporters through good times and not-so-good times. I am very grateful for the opportunity to thank them personally for their years of faithfulness and for this generous gift."
John Ross, director of Forsyth Library, was also on hand to thank the Roemers.
"As a representative of all the Library staff, I thank Mr. and Mrs. Roemer for their generosity," said Ross. "We look forward to working with the Roemers and recognize them as honored members of our Friends of Forsyth Library Advisory Board.
The Roemers both graduated from FHSU in 1948, he with a bachelor of science in agriculture and she with a bachelor of science in home economics. He will receive a Nita M. Landrum Award Friday from the FHSU Alumni Association for his service to the Alumni Association and Fort Hays State University. He is the chair of the FHSU Endowment Association Scholarship Committee and has been a trustee since 1973. Richard and Florence have also been active volunteers and leaders in their community.
During World War II, Richard Roemer served in combat with the 3rd Armored Division in the Battle of the Bulge and the Rhineland Campaign. He was wounded in Cologne, Germany.
The Roemers have three children, Janet K. Schmidt, Douglas W. Roemer and Tima L. Burris. All three attended FHSU.
"Fort Hays State is a wonderful campus," said Roemer. "This is kind of like a happy family. I don't know anyone who hasn't said this is the friendliest campus they've ever seen."
The Roemers have acted on that belief in the university throughout their lives.
"We've tried to guide as many people as we could to come to FHSU," he said.