K-State Salina
2310 Centennial Road
Salina, KS 67401-8196

Office of the Dean

February 2015


Dear K-State Salina family,

With the spring semester in full swing, the campus is brimming with excitement and activity from new students and professors, educational events and advocacy opportunities. We are also eagerly planning our 50th anniversary celebration and we have been mindful during the process to create a spirited atmosphere that current and former faculty, students, alumni and members of our community will want to attend. This year, and this semester in particular, have the potential to be one of the most promising we’ve ever experienced.

As K-State Salina continues to grow and develop from a curriculum standpoint, we are currently searching to fill a variety of teaching positions. The effect of our increasing national and international reputation is being seen in the quality of applicants for these careers. In the first week of February, the newly added associate professor of airport management, Dr. Tara Harl, began her time with K-State Salina. Dr. Harl has more than 30 years experience in professional development within the aviation industry and has owned or co-owned several aviation businesses. She is also a career coach for members of the military transitioning into civilian aviation jobs as well as collegiate graduates looking for their next step in life. We are thrilled to have Dr. Harl as part of our faculty and expect our students will greatly benefit from her expertise. Other positions currently open can be found in aviation, unmanned aircraft systems and math.

K-State Salina strives to challenge what higher education can be for our current students as well as future students, however, the university is also making bold statements in providing scholarship for the community. On January 8, the campus hosted a conference for young women from local high schools hoping to empower them in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math. TWIST, or Teen Women in Science and Technology, welcomed more than 200 girls from 19 schools to learn how women are making a difference in what are usually considered male-dominated careers. On January 14, the campus brought together science enthusiasts from both junior high and high schools to compete in the Salina regional Science Olympiad. K-State Salina has served as the competition location for almost 20 years and many of our faculty and staff volunteer as judges while arts, sciences and business department head, Don Von Bergen, serves as the event director. It is a thrill to watch these promising young students display such enthusiasm for science and technology. And from academics to culture, our university hosted the annual Diversity High Tea on January 26 for the campus and the community. The program was put together by the student club, Multicultural Student Union, and featured a panel of actors from the local production of “Clybourne Park” commenting on race relations in society. It was a very powerful afternoon of open dialogue, enriching each participant on the human condition. K-State Salina is also a sponsor of the show, which plays at the Salina Community Theatre Feb. 13-28.

Our interest in spreading education and innovation also goes beyond the classrooms and conference rooms on our campus. Whether it’s getting out into the community or traveling across the United States, we want to continually promote purple pride and all it has to offer. Throughout the month of January, K-State Salina faculty members presented their expertise at the Salina Noon Rotary Club. Stephanie Gfeller spoke to the group about aging and the curriculum of our gerontology program; Roxanne Martens introduced our personal financial planning program to the members and spoke about peer financial counseling; and Danielle Brown presented on K-State Salina’s professional education and outreach program. Outside of the city of Salina, I traveled to Topeka to update the Kansas Board of Regents on the university talking about our history, present programs, enrollment and plans for the future. A few days later, I flew to Washington, D.C. to attend the Association of American Colleges and Universities Conference and while there, I was able to advocate on the campus’s behalf by connecting with industry leaders.

In the midst of the busyness, I hosted a fun and casual gathering at my home in honor of the New Year. This is a time for our faculty and staff, donors, alumni and friends of the university to get together and celebrate all of the possibilities of 2015. I am so glad that so many people wanted to share in the campus’s excitement for the New Year and it’s inspiring to feel that much support.

And staying on the subject of support, I want to announce that our campus will be holding a memorial service in honor of aviation maintenance manager, Charlie Sojka, on February 27 at 2:00 p.m. in the College Center Conference Room. Charlie passed away in November after an aircraft accident while visiting family in Missouri. Charlie was well respected at K-State Salina because of his passion for aviation and his eagerness to share it, and we want to celebrate his life and talents. I invite all of the campus community to attend our service and share a fond memory of him.

K-State Salina is truly more than an educational institution and place of business - it is a family and the campus is our home. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there is no place like K-State. I am honored everyday to be here and the support and enthusiasm each of you demonstrates for the university will propel us forward together.



Verna M. Fitzsimmons, Ph.D.
CEO, Kansas State University Salina
Dean, College of Technology and Aviation

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