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

Office of the Dean

December 2014


Dear K-State Salina family,

I am currently sitting at my desk on campus and the surprising winter sun is warming my office through the glare of the windows. With a bright sky and no precipitation on the ground, it’s hard to believe that it is already time for another year to come to a close. Yet graduates will pass the threshold from student to professional during fall commencement and professors will hand out the last assignment during finals, both signifying the end of the semester. Whether it’s only for the holiday break or it’s to begin a first career, I hope our students leave the campus this month confident in the education they received, fulfilled in their experiences, and joyfully reminiscent of their 2014 K-State Salina memories.

Usually just before a new year begins, many people take the time to look back at the previous 365 days and reflect on their favorite moments. From special events to generous donations to exciting proclamations of the future, this has been an exceptional year for the campus. Just to put 2014 in perspective, I’ve created a list of the Top Ten K-State Salina Highlights, so we can all celebrate this year’s achievements and become inspired for 2015. Here are the moments, in no particular order:

1.)  The Loening Trophy - In May, the K-State Salina Flight Team landed a very prestigious honor during the National Intercollegiate Flying Association's SAFECON National Championship. They were awarded the Loening Trophy, signifying K-State Salina as having the most outstanding all-around aviation program in the country. The trophy, called the oldest and most elite of all collegiate aviation awards, was first presented — to Harvard University — in 1929, with aviation greats Amelia Earhart and Charles Lindbergh among the judges.

K-State Salina is extremely proud of this honor and grateful to the students who worked so diligently to excel during the competition. The flight team was even featured with the trophy during a timeout at a home football game in October. This award validates the professors and flight instructors’ intelligence and experience, and proves we have skilled students who are serious about succeeding.

2.)  Bulk Solids Innovation Center - After five years of discussions, planning and proposals, Kansas State University along with numerous Salina partners broke ground on the Bulk Solids Innovation Center on July 10. It will be a 13,000-square-foot research facility in north Salina and is slated to be finished in April. The university will be the key tenant in the building while two local companies will supplement the facility by serving as anchor occupants.

Building a research center like this one will bring so much value to our university. Students will have the opportunity to work with professors at the facility and gain relevant knowledge and experience within the research sector but also with industries. The innovation center will also help with the university’s goal of becoming a Top 50 public research institution by 2025.

3.) Associate Dean of Research and Engagement - Another exciting advancement toward our 2025 goal is the creation of the associate dean of research and engagement position. After seven years as the head of the aviation department at K-State Salina, Kurt Barnhart was promoted to this role. He will collaborate with faculty members on new research ideas as well as provide feedback, review proposals, assess budgets and connect them with funding opportunities. Kurt will also continue the development of external relationships for the university.

It is extremely important that we continue to encourage our professors to explore and investigate; to ask questions and create solutions. Without research, everything taught in the classroom would be history and not innovation. And with Kurt at the helm, there will be a lot of exciting new ideas and projects coming from K-State Salina in the near future.

4.)  Welcome Center and locker rooms - K-State Salina is continuing to expand and modernize the campus and this year we opened a brand new Welcome Center. On Sept. 4, the university held a ribbon cutting ceremony to signify the opening of the building. The Welcome Center provides the first impression of the campus to potential students and their families and serves as the one-stop shop for new and returning students. The 5,700-square-foot space contains a classroom for up to 40 students, a computer lab, conference room and 12 offices accommodating financial aid, housing, admissions, student support services as well as the newly created position of diversity coordinator.

On the same day, we also opened the newly built locker room addition to the Student Life Center. Each locker room contains 54 lockers, showers with individual changing areas attached, an additional bathroom and Americans with Disabilities Act compliance. Every renovation and new construction project contributes to the student experience whether it’s through education, function or entertainment.

5.)  University donations - The support of the K-State Salina campus has been quite phenomenal this year and every gift is truly appreciated. So many people benefit when a donation is made to the university - students, faculty, staff and even the community. This year, there was a dramatic increase in scholarship funding from our generous donors, enabling our students to be financially assisted for 2015 and beyond. We have also kicked off a capital campaign to renovate space for a new Advanced Materials and Chemistry Lab and a UAS Lab.

6.)  Faculty awards - K-state Salina’s faculty is comprised of forward-thinking, well-traveled and passionate educators who are serious about advancing our students’ knowledge for the ever-changing world. I am so proud of our professors’ diligent efforts and the many hours they spend improving their expertise so the students and campus can benefit. Many of our professors have been given awards and recognition throughout the year for their exceptional research, dedication and wisdom. Our faculty has excelled in authoring papers and books, renewing their certifications, being awarded grant funding for studies and holding positions on national committees.

7.)  Unmanned aircraft systems - New research projects, classes and professor positions are on the horizon for our unmanned aircraft systems program. This field in particular is growing exponentially and every day we have requests to learn more either from the media, community or potential students. K-State Salina is extremely proud to be one of the most recognized universities when it comes to UAS education.

This year, we hired Kurt Carraway, a former U.S. Air Force colonel stationed in Hawaii, to fulfill the flight operations manager position. Also, the UAS program was chosen by the United States Bureau of Land Management to work collaboratively on research that will use an unmanned aircraft to measure vegetation and survey archeological sites. The University of Kansas even came calling in March to include Kurt Barnhart on a UAS panel during one of their events at the Dole Institute.

8.)  Signature events - When K-State Salina holds events both on campus and off, it is a prime opportunity to demonstrate the innovative and progressive things happening on Centennial Road. Events are also a great way to connect our alumni, industry partners and community members igniting purple pride and spirit. This year we held a variety of events to engage the campus with the public and because of their success, we are feverishly planning next year’s gatherings.

This year’s list of events included Open House in April where a record number of attendees toured the campus and learned about our programs, met with students and participated in fun demonstrations and games. Also in April, we honored the campus’s Alumni Fellow with a three-day celebration, including a get together with young alumni. In October, we held the first Art of the Science wine walk that paired food and wine with art, music and displays from many of K-State Salina’s academic programs. And in November, K-State Salina’s alumni program hosted a football watch party at a local brewery.

9.)  International students - K-State Salina’s fall semester kicked off with incredible energy when the campus welcomed more than 50 new international students. Most of the students are Brazilian and are part of a special exchange program that allows them to study engineering in the United States. We also received students from the Czech Republic, China and Japan. Hosting students from other countries is an incredible opportunity for our American students because they get to personally learn about another country’s culture including food, traditions, fashion and history. It also allows both American and international students to make lifelong friends and build connections they may not have on a regular basis.

10.)  Schilling Hall - For the last 20 years one of the campus’s residence halls has literally been known as Residence Hall. After the students’ confusion over the name continued to build, the Student Governing Association decided this year to have a name contest and voted on the suggestions. The winning submission, Schilling Hall, was then approved by myself and was sent on to the Kansas Board of Regents to become official. On August 29, in front of students, faculty and staff, we unveiled the new name.

Schilling Hall is a tribute to the campus’s history when the area was first known as Schilling Air Force Base in the late 1950’s and early 60’s. It’s exciting to see our students take ownership in moving the university forward and yet, I’m proud that they decided upon a name that honors our past.

This year has been an incredible one for the university and I’m truly inspired for the future of K-State Salina. I want to thank every faculty and staff member, student, industry partner, donor and community supporter for being the cornerstone of this university. I wish you all a wonderful holiday and may 2015 be another year to remember.



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

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