Donors recognized for investment in entrepreneurship at Fort Hays State University

HAYS, Kan. — A $3.5 million donation from the foundation of a northwest Kansas philanthropist made possible the construction of the Dane G. Hansen Scholarship Hall at Fort Hays State University.

Gifts and contributions from many other individuals will help support the university’s entrepreneurship program and the residence hall that will house 32 entrepreneur-minded students and a resident assistant. Those donors were recognized at a news conference in the FHSU Memorial Union, Tuesday, July 26.

The facility, set for completion for the fall 2016 semester, will create a nationally unique living and learning environment for students with a passion for entrepreneurship and starting their own businesses. Students of any major will be given the opportunity to develop the entrepreneurial
mindset and competencies necessary to compete in the global economy.

“This is an exciting time for Fort Hays State University,” said Dr. Mirta M. Martin, FHSU president. “The next Microsoft or Google could potentially be created at our university by a Fort Hays State graduate. This is an incredibly unique facility as it offers an opportunity unlike many others for interdisciplinary program participation.

“Because of the vision and investment of the Dane G. Hansen Foundation and many other generous donors,” Martin added, “students from any degree program will have the opportunity to learn how to start and be successful in their own business. I talk about investment because this is not a donation. This is an investment in the future of this great state. And the future starts with our students.”

Several people spoke at the news conference, including Coleen Ellis, a 1987 graduate of FHSU who — inspired by her entrepreneurial experiences learned at Fort Hays State — created the first stand-alone pet funeral home in the country in Indianapolis, Ind., in 2003.

“Every one of us has our ‘whys’ for what we do in our entrepreneurial journey,” Ellis said, “as well as our individual decisions to support this amazing new program here at FHSU and help other budding entrepreneurs.”

“In today’s economy, entrepreneurship is a participant’s leg up to enter the business world,” said Jim Nokes, a retired FHSU alum who has contributed financially to the entrepreneurship program. “Just like aspirational athletes, if you aspire to be an entrepreneur it requires not only aspiration, but training and development.

“This program provides both formal development and peer interaction. Whether students start small, or obtain financing to start a larger business, there are many pitfalls along the way. This program will allow FHSU students to avoid some start-up pitfalls, so that they can accomplish their dream. And in the end, they will have challenging and satisfying careers,” he added.

Phyllis and Alan Slipke said: “FHSU provided us the tools to get where we are today. We cherish the experiences we have from FHSU and are very fortunate to be able to contribute back and help future generations of Tigers.”

Naming options are still available within the facility, in support of the entrepreneurship program. To learn more, contact the FHSU Foundation either by phone at 785-628-5620 or by emailing foundation@fhsu.edu.

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