The Association

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 Coliseum.

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 society.

Milford Messer '58, '63 was the alumni-placement director from 1967 to 1969, before moving on to the University of Oklahoma.

The 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 communities.

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 Clubs.

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.