I only met you once. It would be wrong even to call it "meeting" you. More like a passing hello between your average K-State student and one of the greatest university presidents in history.
As you all have heard, Dr. Jon Wefald is stepping down as president of Kansas State University, my dear alma mater, after the coming school year. In his time, he has increased enrollment, increased funding, improved the athletic department, and all along the way made K-Staters prouder than ever to say, "That's my university."
My thanks for Dr. Wefald run even deeper. Were it not for his tenure, it's highly unlikely I would ever have gone to K-State. As a kid growing up in rural Nebraska, it was a long shot anyway. But because of his hard work and the belief of the faculty and administrators, K-State became a school I wanted to attend. Football, Colbert Hills, and a top-notch architecture department (too top-notch for me, as I lasted a whole six weeks) were the drawing card. While the foregoing were the reasons I came, the people were the reason I stayed.
Thank you, Dr. Wefald, for creating a place where a young man or woman can enjoy the four (or five or six...) greatest years of their life. For creating a place where I could watch a football team win a Big 12 championship in the frosty Kansas City air in 2003, where we could watch one of the best college basketball players in history in 2007-08, where we could watch the greatest turnaround in the history of sports, orchestrated by Bill Snyder with you directing traffic behind the scenes.
More importantly, thank you for doing it all the right way. The K-State way.
While there are others who had a more direct and personal impact on my development at K-State, and they will possibly be discussed here in the coming days and weeks, Dr. Wefald was the one who got the ball rolling and, with the help of many, many others, kept it rolling for more than 20 years. Whomever replaces him will have a task at least as difficult as Ron Prince had replacing Bill Snyder. But it can be done. We need not allow this to be the end of an era in any terms other than the name of the president.
Once again, thank you, Dr. Wefald. You have carried the banner high.