Myers urges commitment to higher ed funding in inaugural address

K-State President Richard Myers addresses the audience during his inauguration Friday morning inside McCain Auditorium. (Photos courtesy Kansas State University)

While K-State President Richard Myers has quickly cemented his presence on campus since going from interim president to the official pick by the Kansas Board of Regents in November, there were still a few i’s to dot and t’s to cross.

KSU held its official inauguration for Myers Friday morning inside McCain Auditorium, where the retired four-star general was formally introduced as the 14th President of Kansas State University.

Myers, a 1965 KSU graduate and the 15th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was called on after former K-State President Kirk Schulz surprised the Little Apple last year with his decision to take the same job at Washington State University.

In the opening remarks of his inaugural speech, the former principal military advisory to President George W. Bush echoed words often said by KSU football coach Bill Snyder when it came to the reason for his commitment to Kansas State.

“So almost a year ago to this day I accepted the opportunity to serve as interim president of Kansas State, and as I’ve said before, I really did not intend to pursue the permanent position, ” Myers said. “So you might ask, what changed my mind?

“As you would guess, first and foremost, the people.”

Myers said that after a lifetime of moving, he’s glad to stay put in a place so key in his personal history.

“I think we moved houses 27 times during my 40 years in the military,” he said. “So, it wasn’t really hard to come to Manhattan, but it was really special to come back to Manhattan where (my wife) Mary Jo of course grew up and where we met as students.”

Myers’ inauguration was full of K-State administration officials and a who’s who of university presidents from the Big 12 community. When Myers wasn’t at the podium, he sat close to his wife. Various state legislators were also in the audience and Gov. Sam Brownback also joined dignitaries on stage.

Brownback was one of the many speakers who led up to Myers’ address.

“Gen. Myers, Mary Jo, let me say welcome home,” Brownback said. “We’re happy to have you back. This is the place where you belong, and I’m just tickled pink to have them here.”

Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback addresses the audience Friday morning in McCain Auditorium during the inauguration of K-State President Richard B. Myers.

The governor praised Myers military experience, especially during 9/11, when he was the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2001 through 2005.

“I think he will be an extraordinary fit, with all of that experience that he has, with the ability to pull people together, to have them move forward in a common vision and a common effort, to make this place an even better institution,” Brownback said.

Dennis Mullin of Manhattan, who also serves on the Kansas Board of Regents and was the chairman of the presidential search committee, introduced Myers.

“A leader has to have the ability to persevere in difficult times,” he said. “I am honored today to introduce a person that exemplifies these leadership qualities.”

Myers praised K-State’s growing reputation as the “Silicon Valley of bio-agro defense” and its “town-gown” relationship with the city of Manhattan. But he also acknowledged recent funding challenges for higher education in the state.

After thanking Gov. Brownback and state lawmakers for their attendance and attention to those challenges, Myers reiterated the importance of such funding.

“An educated workforce is one of the keys to our state’s future prosperity, and frankly, we need to do more,” Myers said. “The continued decline of state funding for higher education is a real challenge, as it leads to increased tuition and financial burden for our students. We can’t fully achieve our land-grant mission, including accessibility and affordability goals, without adequate support from the state of Kansas.”

In March, university officials said KSU would reduce its budget by $6 million, due to cuts in state funding. That’s on top of previous cuts for regent institutions.

In February, Blake Flanders, the president of the Kansas Board of Regents, told the Topeka Capital-Journal regent universities in the state have lost $75 million over the past three years.

At the same time, the state budget has been in constant deficit and is expected to see a shortfall of $889 million by June 2019.

“It’s critical that we make sound decisions on budgets — tax policy for that matter — and the school financing formula to ensure Kansas stays competitive through the fundamental benefits of quality education,” Myers said, before being interrupted by enthusiastic applause from the audience.

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Fort Riley deployment announced

The 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, is scheduled to deploy this fall to Europe in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Approximately 4,000 Soldiers assigned to the “Dagger” brigade will deploy as part of the regular rotation of forces in that region and will replace the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, based out of Fort Carson, Colorado.

“The Dagger brigade is looking forward to deploying back to Europe,” said Col. David Gardner, commander of 2nd ABCT, 1st ID. “The brigade has served most of its 100-year history in support of our European allies and will arrive after a year of training ready to do so again.”

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Riley County Police report death of teen

Riley County Police are reporting a death of a teenager due to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Officers were dispatched to the 2400 block of Bighorn Lane Thursday at approximately 8:30 PM for a report of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. When responding officers arrived they found that Elaina Lagabed, 17, of Manhattan was deceased. Lagabed’s next of kin has been notified.

Police do not suspect foul play based on information and evidence collected at the scene. Furthermore, officials confirmed that the public is not in danger as a result of this death.

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Unloaded handgun found in backpack at MHS

An unloaded handgun was found in a student’s backpack at Manhattan High School Thursday afternoon.

Michelle Jones, the director of communications and school safety for USD 383, informed KMAN of the discovery. She said the district does not plan to release any additional information regarding this incident.

Jones also passed along a message to students and parents from MHS Principal Greg Hoyt, which can be read below:

Students, Parents, and Guardians –

This afternoon, in the process of conducting an unrelated investigation, an unloaded handgun was discovered in a student’s backpack by an administrator. There was no ammunition discovered on the student or in the backpack, RCPD was immediately contacted and the student was taken into custody by law enforcement.

A search of the student’s vehicle did not reveal any ammunition. At no time had the weapon been brandished at school, and no reports of a possible weapon were received.

We are thankful for the safe outcome, and are committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment for all students, staff members, and guests at Manhattan High School. I applaud the work of school officials and our school resource officer, and am especially thankful for the student who first reported on a separate incident.

Greg Hoyt, MHS Principal

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More road work on Seth Child

On Tuesday, May 2, weather permitting, a 1.5-inch mill and overlay project will begin on a 5.631-mile section of K-113 (Seth Child Road) from K-18 to U.S. 24 in Manhattan. Work will begin on the south end of the project just north of the K-18 Diverging Diamond Interchange Project underway and move north to U.S. 24. Work will take place during daylight hours, Monday through Friday, with some occasional Saturday work.

Beginning May 2, northbound and southbound K-113 will be reduced to one open lane each direction for a few miles at a time on the four-lane portion. Traffic will be directed through the project work zone via cones, arrow boards and signage. Traffic will not travel on the milled portion of the K-113 roadway.

When work advances to the two-lane portion of the roadway, traffic will be reduced to one lane for both directions along with intermittent closures of adjacent cross roads during the project work hours. Drivers should expect delays of up to 15 minutes maximum and are encouraged to use alternate routes, if possible. There will be a 12-foot lane width restriction each direction throughout the project duration.

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K-State President Myers comments on anti-Semitic message

Myers

Kansas State University President Richard Myers Thursday is commenting on a poster with an anti-Semitic message that was taped to a utility pole near Ahearn Field House. President Myers stresses this type of message is unwelcome at Kansas State University.

Myers goes on to say there have been a series of random messages found on campus in recent weeks, small in number but each targeting a specific group of the K-State family. He refers to the LGBTQ community, which he indicates was disparaged in one single-page flyer and African-American family members targeted in another. The K-State President says in his statement which can be found in K-State Today, these few, random incidents should be kept in perspective, adding the K-State family is committed to diversity and inclusion and should not be influenced by these isolated incidents. And he says, “while we don’t know who has distributed these missives, or why  we do know they don’t represent the values of the K-State family.”

President Myers ends his statement by saying “Principles of Community affirm the right of freedom of expression, but we call on each other to maintain civility and respect. The tone of these messages does not honor these principles. This is not the Wildcat Way. We welcome and embrace those who bring diverse backgrounds, thoughts and opinions to our university.”

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Resentencing in battery case brings comments from Riley County Attorney

(Wilkerson pictured on right)

It doesn’t happen very often, but a Manhattan man originally sentenced for felony battery of a county employee was resentenced in Riley County District Court earlier this week on a misdemeanor battery charge. As KMAN reported earlier this month, the Kansas Supreme Court affirmed a Kansas Court of Appeals decision in the case, involving the lower district court’s previous conviction in a case involving Tracey Toliver.
Toliver’s original case occurred in February of 2014, with Toliver spitting at a law enforcement officer while in a correctional facility. The 13 page Supreme Court document dealt with the statutory interpretation regarding the definition of a correctional officer or employee, with the Riley County attorney’s office trying for the felony charge which applies to county correctional officers or employees.
Wilkerson adds every few years his office will see this type of case, and then the legislature will make amendments to the statues. In this case he indicates that would make things on an equal playing field so a police officer would receive the same protection as a correctional officer when he’s in a corrections facility. The County Attorney further stresses it wasn’t anything Sr. Deputy Attorney Barry Disney did wrong or any type of error on the county attorney office’s part.
Wilkerson’s complete statement can be heard here:
      barrywilkerson-cathyworking

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KSU students lost to World War I honored with Memorial Stadium ceremony

Jed Dunham speaks during Friday’s re-dedication ceremony of World War I Memorial Stadium on the campus of K-State. (Staff photos by Brady Bauman)

K-State students lost to World War I were honored Friday afternoon with a re-dedication ceremony of Memorial Stadium.

Now, it is officially World War I Memorial Stadium.

“If we were to hold one second of silence for each death caused by the first World War,” Jed Dunham told the crowd. “It would require us to remain quiet for 162 days.”

Fort Riley soldiers, dignitaries and a crowd filled the west side of the former KSU football stadium that has been a landmark on the campus of Kansas State University since 1922.

Dunham, a writer and researcher for K-State’s Office of Military Affairs, took one of those seconds to honor Capt. Willis Comfort, a K-Stater who was one of the founding leaders of the 1st Infantry Division before he was killed in France in 1918. After his death, he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross — the nation’s second highest military award.

Dunham said he told Comfort’s story to another Distinguished Service Cross recipient, retired Col. Mike McDermott, a Vietnam veteran who is a senior consultant for veterans programs at KSU.

Brigadier General Patrick D. Frank, left, and retired Col. Mike McDermott salute the memory of Capt. Willis Comfort. Comfort was one of 48 K-State students who left for World War I but did not return.

McDermott discovered Comfort qualified to be a member of the Legion of Valor, a federally-chartered corporation that requires a Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, Navy Cross or Air Force Cross for admittance.

McDermott discovered Comfort’s name wasn’t in the group’s roster.

“He took it upon himself to rectify that,” Dunham said of McDermott, who was on stage for the ceremony. “In this past year, at the national convention of the Legion of Valor, Mike McDermott sponsored Willis Comfort and formally inducted him into the organization that he rightfully belongs.”

Comfort’s photo, guarded by a solider dressed as they did in WWI, was featured at the ceremony and a wreath was laid near it by McDermott and Brigadier General Patrick D. Frank of Fort Riley.

“If you’re a K-Stater, this has to be meaningful to you,” said Richard Myers, the president of K-State and former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, from the podium. “If you’ve been in the military, this is very meaningful to you, because we’re finally bringing to close a chapter that was opened, but never officially closed.”

The day — which was threatened by drops of rain — was possible because of the curiosity of Dunham.

Dunham, a 1996 KSU graduate, took special notice of a plaque on the southern end of the stadium’s east stands while visiting Manhattan in 2014. The plaque displayed the names of 48 K-State students who lost their lives in World War I and Dunham, who lived in New Hampshire at the time, wanted to know more about them.

Click to view slideshow.

Initially, the task wasn’t as easy as he hoped and more was required than a simple Google search of names.

“Nothing came back,” Dunham told the audience. “And this did not sit well with me, and thus began an odyssey to find out who these individuals were. And as I pulled the string and unraveled what became a long journey down the rabbit hole, the stories of the 48 fallen emerged.

“And they were fascinating. And they were beautiful. And they were sad, and they were horrific and they were unbelievably American.”

Once more and more information was found, Dunham said he reached out to K-State officials. Interest grew and snowballed into Friday’s ceremony.

“It was never my intention to have this moment here, today,” he said. “Yet, here we are. Keep believing.”

Dunham said that the stories of the lost soldiers and K-State students are remarkable. Although not all of them went to war with zeal, they answered the call of their country.

“Individually, they are worthy of Hollywood epics, but taken together, they are a national treasure,” Dunham said.

Dunham, who said the day was also an opportunity to unite what he called an increasingly divided country, hopes to release published works of the 48 fallen soldier’s stories.

Dunham’s full remarks can be listened to below:

      Jed Dunham 1
      Jed Dunham 2

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“Friended at the Front” author visits K-State

Dr. Lisa Silvestri, author of Friended at the Front:Social Media in the American War Zone” delivered the 17th annual Huck Boyd Lecture in Community Media Thursday morning and also participated in a roundtable discussion later in the day with a group that included KMAN’s Cathy Dawes. Cathy spoke to her following that afternoon discussion and her interview follows:

      Dr Lisa Silvestri

 

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RCPD: Suspect identified in hit and run that left MHK woman hospitalized

The Riley County Police Department says a suspect has been identified in the hit and run accident that put a Manhattan woman in the hospital last week.

According to a press release from the RCPD, a male has identified himself as the driver of the vehicle that struck 21-year-old Amber Wilhelm during the early morning hours on April 14. At this point, no arrests have been made as the investigation continues.

Police say that due to department policy, the name of the individual will not be released until the conclusion of the investigation and enforcement action in the form of a citation or arrest is made.

The Wilhelm family has been notified of the development.

“They, and we, want to thank the thousands of people in Riley County and beyond that shared this story from the beginning,” the RCPD stated. “Your help and support has been incredible.”

Wilhelm’s parents filmed video statements through the RCPD Facebook page earlier this week pleading for the driver to come to the police. They were shared through various media outlets in the region and through the social media accounts of everyday citizens.

KMAN will have more information as it becomes available.

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