Early in the life of the university, Fort Hays State
University recognized the need to maintain ties to the campus and to
strengthen friendships among Tiger alumni and friends.
The 1916 Reveille yearbook mentions a
newly created Alumni Association with the following officers for the
1915-1916 year: Louis Christiansen, president; Walter E. Scott,
vice-president; Maude McMindes, secretary; and A. F. Bieker, treasurer.
The 1917 treasurer's report shows that life membership dues were $5, and
that the Association used the money to publish an alumni directory. A
college librarian, Lulu M. Bice, kept a record of the names and addresses of degree and diploma graduates.
Early activities of the Association
included arrangements for homecoming and the annual commencement dinner
for graduates, alumni, faculty and friends. In 1921, the Association
promoted a drive to secure funds to purchase a pipe organ for Sheridan
The Alumni Student Loan Fund began in
1924, providing loan funds for senior students, with repayment after
graduation. Alumni Association life membership dues financed the fund.
Established in 1951, the Scholarship Fund provided tuition scholarships
for students of any classification. In 1957, the Association developed a
plan to build a reserve, termed the Alumni Fund, for which annual
contributions were solicited. Two-thirds of the money received for the
Alumni Fund was placed in an account designated as the Alumni Loan and
Scholarship Fund. The Association was one of the first organizations to
establish this type of help for students.
A small news sheet called "The Alumni
News" was first published in 1919. This publication was short-lived, and
at its termination the "State College Leader" became the official
publication of the Alumni Association, published once a month
and included a page featuring news of alumni. The Association mailed
this issue of the Leader to all life members. In 1950, the Association
published the first issue of "The Alumni News", an attractive quarterly
tabloid, with Nita M. Landrum '26 as editor and Helen
Francis '35 as associate editor. This tabloid contained 20 to 24 pages,
and in 1960, the Association mailed 2,800 copies to active members. In
addition to the publication, the Association published a quarterly
Alumni Newsletter and sent it to former students and alumni who were not
currently active members.
Initiated in 1937, class reunion
activities took place at five-year intervals, giving all classes an
opportunity to meet for reunions. The Association now holds reunions
during the annual university homecoming in the fall.
Harold Stones '58, '58 became director of placement and alumni in 1961
and remained until he joined the Kansas Bankers Association in 1967.
Nita M. Landrum '26 retired in 1961 after many years of loyal service.
The Association has initiated a number of
special activities over the years: a Second Generation Club which
organized a yearly Parents' Day; active support of the university
legislative program; a Key Alumni program which informed a "key" alumnus
in each county of the state about campus developments and needs; a
25-Year Service Award, presented to faculty and staff members for a
quarter century of service to the university, and an Alumni Achievement
Award, initiated in 1959, to recognize meritorious service by alumni to
Milford Messer '58, '63 was the alumni-placement director from 1967 to 1969, before moving on to the University of Oklahoma.
Association initiated several new activities during the administrations
of Presidents John Gustad and Gerald Tomanek. Three were established
in 1974. The Tiger Parent Club was composed of parents of currently
enrolled students. The Association presented the first Distinguished
Service Award to Donald P. Doane, editor of U.S. News and World Report.
The second award went to Dr. William D. Moreland, a retired FHSU faculty
member. The Pilot Award recognized outstanding teaching faculty, and
the Torch Award recognized outstanding graduating seniors.
The Half-Century Club, organized in
December of 1969, is a cooperative effort between the Alumni Association
and the Fort Hays Endowment Association. Glenn C. Archer '23, '34,
wrote a letter in May 1969 to Kent Collier, '40, '40, '67 executive
secretary of the Endowment Association, suggesting a Half-Century Club
be established for anyone who had attended the school 50 or more years
earlier. On Oct. 18, 1969, during Homecoming weekend, the club formed
and made Albert Whisnant its first president. The club now boasts more
than 1,453 members.
Ron Pflughoft '70 became the first full-time alumni director in 1970. He also served as director of governmental relations and spent much time in Topeka. Sally Ward '70 followed Ron Pflughoft '70 as alumni director in 1974 and continued until her retirement in 1986. Jan Johansen became acting director in 1986 until Pflughoft returned to the position in 1988. He retired June 14, 1997.
The Alumni Association has maintained an
office on the campus since 1928. The Association holds membership in the
Council for Advancement and Support of Education and is incorporated
under the laws of Kansas, with the name "Fort Hays State University
Alumni Association, Incorporated."
The Young Alumni Award, established in
1977 recognizes candidates from the 10 to 15 year classes. The first
awards went to members of the 1967 class. The award honors outstanding
community and/or educational achievement and leadership during the 10 to
15 years following graduation. In 1994, the Association created the
Nita M. Landrum award for outstanding volunteers in their local
In 1980, the Alumni Association left
Picken Hall and moved its office to the Endowment building at 610 Park
Street. Custer Hall, refurbished in 1988, housed the Alumni Center until
the Fall of 2008.
Some of the programs and services provided
by the Alumni Association as of this writing follow. The Records and
Information System maintains and updates more than 84,000+ records of
graduates, former students and friends of the university. The Student
Recognition Program, an effort with the Office of Admissions, recognizes
students who received scholarships. Other programs include the Tiger
credit card; Homecoming and Commencement activities; alumni chapters;
travel programs; Graduate and Faculty Brunch; Alumni Leadership
Conference; Legislator Appreciation Day; Lewis Field and Half-Century
Debra Prideaux '86, '92 assumed the Executive Director role August 1997, and continues in that capacity.
As Fort Hays State University continues to
expand its role in the academic world, the Association intends to match
its growth and reflect its progress. In August 1998, the association
returned the Alumni News to a magazine format. Now known as the FHSU Magazine, tiger alumni and friends enjoy an easily read publication complete with a four-color cover.
As the Association continues to move
forward in the 21st century, it strives to provide increased customer
service by becoming more focused on meeting the needs of FHSU alumni and
friends. To increase alumni access, a toll-free telephone number was
added, as well as the addition of the FHSU-TigerTalk, an
enhanced communication via electronic newsletter. In 1999 an enhanced
web page, a global travel program, and a legislative support network
were developed to further enhance the membership program and lend
support to the university.
In continuing to fulfill its goals to be
the official "friend-raiser" of the university, the Association
continually strives to identify and meet the needs of all FHSU alumni
and friends. In 2002-03, membership continued to be the number one goal
of the Association as efforts continued to identify and meet the needs
of all FHSU alumni and friends through the implementation of the "Alumni
E-mail Forwarding Service" and the official state of Kansas Tiger tag
program. All FHSU alumni, regardless of residency or career, are
eligible to receive this free lifetime e-mail forwarding service. The
Tiger tag program, designed to increase
scholarship funding for FHSU students, has given the Association the
opportunity to raise Tiger awareness throughout Kansas and beyond. The
Alumni Association and FHSU Foundation were announced as significant
components of the Centennial Campaign. The Robbins Center, housing the
FHSU Foundation and Alumni Association, opened in 2007 offering alumni
and friends a place to call home. Named after W.R. "Bill" and Yvonne
Robbins of Great Bend, the Robbins Center is a 28,900 square-foot
building which houses the Alumni Association and Foundation offices.